News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

May 20, 2006

O'Loan Rebuts Paisley Claims

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

News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 05/20/06 O’Loan Rebuts Paisley Claims
BB 05/20/06 Empey Plans More Assembly Moves
IN 05/20/06 Hain Making ‘Shambles’ Of Parades Commission
IN 05/20/06 New Boundaries Will Impact On Assembly
IN 05/20/06 Graffiti Attacks Former IRA Prisoner
IN 05/20/06 Adair Has Lucrative Five-Figure Book Deal
IT 05/20/06 Campaigners Press For Sellafield Closure
BB 05/20/06 "Tapping Up" In Halls Of Stormont
IN 05/20/06 Opin: Courageous Invitation A Challenge To Paisley
IN 05/20/06 Opin: Condemnation On Its Own Is Never Enough
IN 05/20/06 Opin: Catholic Rights Are Secondary To Unionist Needs
IN 05/20/06 Opin: Cunning Plan Is ‘Assisted Suicide’ For UUP
IN 05/20/06 Opin: Scrambled Principles Leave Egg On UUP Face
IT 05/20/06 Ireland Lays Claim To Potentially Oil-Rich Seas
IN 05/20/06 Fresh Efforts To Lure Elusive Corncrake To Rathlin Island
IN 05/20/06 Irish Civil War Flick At Cannes


O’Loan Rebuts Paisley Claims

By William Graham Political Correspondent

A claim by DUP leader Ian Paisley that those accused of the
murder of Michael McIlveen “cross the religious divide” has
been dismissed as false by Ballymena SDLP councillor Declan

On Wednesday at Westminster Mr Paisley, below, asked
British Prime Minister Tony Blair if he knew there was “a
strange significance to this murder”.

“Those who are charged cross the religious divide,” Mr
Paisley said. “They are Protestants and Roman Catholics.
That seems a very strange thing.”

But in a statement yesterday Mr O’Loan, while not
commenting on the legal proceedings, said he rejected Mr
Paisley’s claim as false that those accused came from both
sides of the community.

“It is an absolute fact that this was a sectarian murder as
the PSNI has clearly stated,” Mr O’Loan said.

“Mr Paisley is attempting to distract from that fact.”

Mr O’Loan also alleged that Mr Paisley “has tried to
minimise sectarian killings before in this constituency”.

“This is an attempt to shift responsibility from his own
party for their contribution to sectarianism in this area.
I reject it totally,” he said.

In the Commons Mr Paisley pointed out that at the first
meeting of the reconvened assembly on Monday every member
stood for a minute’s silence in memory of the young
Ballymena man “who has been grievously murdered.”

Mr Paisley said the chief of police in Ballymena had made a
statement saying that the situation may change and that
Protestants could be attacked in the same way.

“In order to prevent any retaliation will the prime
minister back the police by giving them the men who are
needed to do the job which is a very difficult job to do?”
Mr Paisley asked.

Mr Blair joined Mr Paisley in sending condolences to
Michael’s family.

The prime minister said that he wanted to thank Mr Paisley
“for the responsible way in which he has handled this

“I will certainly give the police every support in the work
that they do,” Mr

Blair said in reply to Mr Paisley’s question


Empey Plans More Assembly Moves

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has said "elements in
the government" are opposed to his assembly deal with PUP
leader David Ervine.

Sir Reg has said Mr Ervine joining the UUP assembly team
will cost Sinn Fein a ministerial seat in any executive.

He has confirmed his party has been in touch with other
assembly members about increasing the strength of the
Ulster Unionist group.

However, he has refused to identify which politicians had
been involved.

Mr Empey made the comments on the BBC's Inside Politics
programme on Saturday.

The UUP has said Mr Ervine's move would pass a third Sinn
Fein executive place to them and see a unionist majority
for the first time on the executive.

Earlier this week, DUP leader Ian Paisley said by linking
with the PUP the UUP were "allying" themselves with

The party's deputy leader Peter Robinson said the Ulster
Volunteer Force - with which the PUP has links - was active
in criminal and paramilitary areas, according to the latest
report by the Independent Monitoring Commission.

However, Mr Ervine has said a stronger unionist presence on
any executive that was formed, would bolster confidence in
his community.

"I think I'm doing a very logical, shrewd political move,"
he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/20 08:07:25 GMT


Hain Making ‘Shambles’ Of Parades Commission

By Staff Reporter

SECRETARY of State Peter Hain was under intense political
pressure last night after four of the north’s main parties
accused him of making a “shambles” of the Parades

Just as the main marching season begins, the body tasked
with ruling on the legality of contentious parades has lost
two members and much of its political credibility.

First Orangeman Donald MacKay was forced to resign after it
emerged that neither of his referees supported his position
on the commission.

Then yesterday the High Court ruled that the appointment of
a second Orangeman, David Burrows, was “unlawful” because
it did not meet equality criteria.

Mr Hain had earlier stood over both appointments and just
days ago accused the SDLP of “making mischief” by calling
for the resignation of Mr MacKay.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Ulster Unionists and the Alliance
Party last night all criticised Mr Hain’s approach to the
key body.

John O’Dowd of Sinn Fein accused Mr Hain of having an
“arrogant approach” which had damaged public confidence in
the commission.

The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly described the events as a
“debacle” and called on the secretary of state “to go back
to the drawing board and put in place what he should have
originally – a representative commission where all sides
are treated equally”.

Ulster Unionists Michael Copeland blamed Mr Hain for the
“shambles” and said the Parades Commission was “irreparably

Alliance leader David Ford also said the NIO’s failure to
appoint people on merit was “a very dangerous state of
affairs which threatens any prospect of stability in our

However, DUP assembly member, Jeffrey Donaldson accused
nationalists of conducting a “sectarian” campaign against
the two Orangemen.


New Boundaries Will Impact On Assembly

Boundary Commission Report

By William Graham Political Correspondent

Boundary changes to the north’s 18 electoral constituencies
could have some impact on the distribution of assembly
seats between nationalists and unionists but are unlikely
to affect the outcome of a future Westminster election.
Political correspondent William Graham reports

A shake-up in electoral boundaries is not expected to
change the unionist/nationalist share of seats at the next
Westminster election but will impact on assembly election

The changes will see an increase in the nationalist vote in
North Belfast and extra unionist votes in South Belfast.

In Foyle (Derry), changes in key wards could narrow SDLP
leader Mark Durkan’s Westminster majority but probably not
enough to change the result.

However, at an assembly election the constituency of Lagan
Valley may lose its single nationalist seat held by the

The Boundary Commission published revised recommendations
for the north’s 18 constituencies yesterday.

It has decided not to go ahead with the creation of a new
constituency called ‘Antrim Coast and Glens’ due to a lack
of support.

This is the most important change to previous
recommendations and follows public inquiries in Ballymena,
Belfast and Newcastle.

Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty welcomed the

“There was no logic behind this proposal and I welcome the
fact the commission has seen sense and accepted that this
idea should be scrapped,” he said.

“The commission has a vital role to play in ensuring that
the political landscape in the six counties, for so many
years distorted by unionist gerrymandering, is fair and
delivers a level electoral playing field.”

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said he was confident that the
party would “maintain its position of strength in future
elections on the basis of these boundary changes”.

“We are confident that we can mount strong challenges to
take advantage of beneficial changes in Strangford and East
Antrim,” he said.

“We are very glad to see that the city of Newry has not
been split between two constituencies but will remain in
Newry and Armagh.”

DUP observers suggested that the boundary changes would
probably not make a huge difference to its fortunes at

But the party believes that if the 2005 election in South
Belfast had been fought within its new boundary it would
probably have more than halved SDLP candidate Alasdair
McDonnell’s majority.

Unionists are probably about 500 to 1,000 votes better off
as a result of the changes but that in itself would not
swing the seat.

“There is a marginal unionist advantage there which in the
light of a close election could make a difference,” one
DUP observer said.

At assembly level it is difficult to see how there is still
a nationalist seat in Lagan Valley, although a sizeable
nationalist vote in Glenavy ward has been regained.

Some observers believe it is now impossible for both
Alliance and the SDLP to retain seats and it could turn out
to be a constituency of five unionist assembly members.

At the same time there appears to be the opportunity of a
safe nationalist seat in East Antrim, previously held by
the SDLP’s Danny O’Connor.

But the prospect of a second nationalist seat in North
Antrim may now be unlikely.

Election expert Nicholas Whyte, who runs a Northern Ireland
election website and blog called LiveJournal, described the
commission’s revised recommendations as much more modest
than had been originally planned.

“I don’t see any significant impact on the next Westminster
elections,” he said.

“At assembly level the SDLP will lose their current seat in
Lagan Valley but there will now be a safe nationalist seat
in East Antrim.

“The changes to South Belfast, plus last week’s demise of
the Women’s Coalition, will put Alliance in a stronger
position to win a [assembly] seat there, though the party
still has quite some way to go.

“The entrenchment of six assembly seats per constituency in
the Good Friday Agreement results in the under-representation
of voters in Newry and Armagh, North Antrim and Upper Bann,
which are all large enough to warrant a seventh seat at
assembly elections.”

By Mr Whyte’s estimates, the new West Belfast constituency
has 0.2 per cent more Catholic voters and Lagan Valley 6.3
per cent more Protestants.

The newly redrawn East Derry constituency will have 2.1 per
cent more Catholics than the existing one, while the new Foyle
constituency has 0.3 per cent more Catholics.

Mr White believes there will be no consequences for
Westminster in these north-west constituencies but in an
assembly poll in East Derry nationalists will be closer to
a third seat, although still some way off.

In Foyle, unionists will be slightly further away from a
second seat.

Mr Whyte also pointed out that in Belfast, “the weird
division of the Shankill Road between north and west
remains, and the new boundary weaves through the streets of

Demographic shifts leave the new North Belfast constituency
with almost one per cent more Catholics while South Antrim
will have 1.6 per cent more Protestant.

“In North Belfast this slightly accelerates nationalist
growth, slightly diminishes DUP dominance,” he said.

Sinn Fein councillor Breige Meehan welcomed the fact that
Glengormley was moving into the greater Belfast area.

She claimed it had been discriminated against for years in
terms of facilities and the move would give nationalists
“a level playing field”.

Anyone wishing to make representations to the commission
should do so by June 24.


• The four Belfast constituencies retained but extended
outwards to include Carryduff, Dundonald, Dunmurry, Lagmore
and Glengormley

• Castlereagh Borough Council wards of Hillfoot and
Wynchurch to transfer from East Belfast to South Belfast

• Down District Council wards of Ballymaglave, Ballynahinch
East and Kilmore to switch from South Down to Strangford

• East Antrim extended to include Moyle wards of Glenan,
Glenariff and Glendun, currently in the North Antrim

• Newtownabbey ward of Cloughfern transfers from East
Antrim to North Belfast

• Newry and Armagh and Upper Bann constituencies both

• South Antrim extended to include Glenavy from Lagan

• Derry wards of Banagher and Claudy transfer from Foyle to
East Derry


Graffiti Attacks Former IRA Prisoner

By Catherine Morrison and Marie Louise McCrory

GRAFFITI has been dubbed on a wall near the home of a
former IRA prisoner turned author who recently claimed that
republicans rejected a deal in 1981 which could have saved
the lives of hunger strikers.

Richard O’Rawe’s west Belfast home was targeted yesterday,
with the words “ROR H Block traitor” sprayed on a wall
beside the Glen Road house.

There were also reports that a similar slogan had also
appeared on a wall at the top of the Whiterock Road.

Mr O’Rawe, who acted as public relations officer for the
hunger strikers while in the H-blocks in 1981, claimed in
his book Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger
Strike, that a deal was offered by the British government
to end the hunger strike before the fifth man had died.

He said that on July 5, after the first four prisoners
including Bobby Sands had died, Danny Morrison, director of
publicity for the republican movement at the time, visited
the IRA commander in the Maze, Brendan “Bik” McFarlane, to
brief him on a British offer of a deal.

Mr O’Rawe said McFarlane returned to the block after his
meeting and passed a communication to him detailing the
offer, which they both then agreed to accept.

But in his book Mr O’Rawe alleged the IRA leadership
outside the jail did not believe the deal was enough.

Three days later a fifth hunger striker, Joe McDonnell,
died. Five more men were to starve to death before the
protest ended.

The claims caused controversy in republican circles and
were denied by senior members of the movement.

Earlier this week, Mr O’Rawe claimed in The Irish News that
he had been “demonised” by the republican movement.

Mr O’Rawe said he has been more vilified by republicans
than British informer Freddie Scappaticci ever was.

Speaking last night, he said he predicted in an article in
The Irish News that he would be targeted as a result of his

“What I predicted has actually almost come true,” Mr O’Rawe

“This is an attempt to intimidate me out of west Belfast.
It’s not going to work.”


Adair Has Lucrative Five-Figure Book Deal

By Barry McCaffrey

Book Keeping: Adair agrees to 5 figure sum

LOYALIST Johnny Adair has signed a potentially lucrative
deal with one of Britain’s biggest publishing companies for
his autobiography.

The former UDA leader, who was the first person to be
convicted of directing terrorism, agreed what is thought to
be a ‘substantial’ five-figure sum with John Blake
Publishers in London.

A victims’ group last night called for the money to be
seized, but Adair defended the deal struck on Thursday and
claimed there was even talk of a film.

The book will tell the story of his leadership of the
notorious Shankill ‘C Company’ from the late 1980s until
being ousted in an internal UDA feud in 2003.

Adair’s ‘C Company’ was blamed for some of the worst
atrocities of the Troubles, murdering dozens of innocent
Catholics in indiscriminate gun and bomb attacks.

Blake’s is one of Britain’s top book companies, having
published best-selling autobiographies by models Jordan and
Jodie Marsh, footballers Steven Gerrard and Alan Shearer,
chef Gordon Ramsay and actor David Jason.

It has previously published books by IRA double agents
Martin McGartland and ‘Kevin Fulton’ as well as Milltown
cemetery killer Michael Stone.

Defending his right to make money from his life as a
paramilitary leader, Adair said: “A lot of people have made
a lot of money off my back in the past and now it’s time
for me to get some.

“I am delighted with the book deal and there is even talk
about a film. I have had an amazing life by anyone’s

“There have been 15 attempts on my life. The police used
agents to put me behind bars.

“When they arrested me in 2001 they landed a helicopter on
the Shankill Road to take me to Maghaberry.

“Other people have told their side of the story, so now
it’s time for me to have my say.”

A spokeswoman for John Blake Publishers confirmed that a
book deal had been signed with the former UDA leader but
refused to comment further, claiming the work was “at an
early stage”.

However, victims’ group Relatives For Justice last night
called on the Compensations Agency and Assets Recovery
Agency to begin legal proceedings to recover any money
which may be paid to Adair.

“Both agencies have previously refused to take action
against Michael Stone, who signed a similar deal with the
same company,” a spokesman said.

“In the case of Adair’s close associate John White, he was
allowed to sell his house and take off with the proceeds.

“The government has repeatedly refused to take action to
recover proceeds from people who have acted as their

“A lot of people who lost loved ones at the hands of Adair
and his associates will be looking closely to see if the
Compensations Agency and Assets Recovery Agency takes any
action in this case.”


Campaigners Press For Sellafield Closure

Campaigners attempting to force the closure of the
Sellafield nuclear power station today claimed its
existence could jeopardise the health of generations to

Warnings were also issued against any move to build further
plants across Britain.

At a conference held by Sinn Fein in Dundalk, Co Louth, the
party insisted the controversial facilities in Cumbria
still posed dangers across the Irish Sea and discussed how
to organise its shutting.

Arthur Morgan TD claimed: "This is the most discredited
nuclear facility in Western Europe. The people of County
Louth and indeed the whole island have always had serious
health concerns around Sellafield.

"We want a complete closure of the plant, on a phased
basis. We want a proper clean-up operation and we want more
openness and no more cover-ups from the British Government
on this issue."

Mr Morgan also told how the prospect of new power plants
being erected posed grave concerns.

"On a recent visit to Brussells it was evident to me that
there is a very large pro-nuclear lobby at work promoting
nuclear energy," he said.

"Nuclear power can never be a viable option. The
devastation caused twenty years ago at Chernobyl and the
after-effects, which will be felt for many more generations
should be enough to make us stop in our tracks and think

Other speakers at the conference, Sellafied - Still a
Danger, included Lennart Varmby, Board Member of the
Swedish Energy Agency; George Regan, the Scottish Vice-
chair of Nuclear Free Local Authorities and a Dundee City
Councillor; and Rea Street, Vice-chair of CND.

© The Irish Times/


"Tapping Up" In Halls Of Stormont

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

In football it is known as "tapping up" - approaching a
player from another team.

There are strict rules about it, as Chelsea's Jose Mourinho
and Arsenal's Ashley Cole can tell you, even though soccer
agents seem to honour them more in the breach than the

In politics, the rules are even more fluid. Northern
Ireland's former security minister, Shaun Woodward, for
example, owes his current ministerial career to his timely
conversion from Tory spin doctor to Blair acolyte.

As the Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg Empey, told Inside
Politics - every party looks around to increase its own
strength, and if they approach opposition players then "so

"So what", maybe, when you are talking about newspaper
reports of approaches to the likes of the Alliance's Seamus
Close or the DUP's Mark Robinson.

Sir Reg, incidentally, would not confirm or deny these
approaches, although he confirmed that his party had talked
to political "colleagues" about increasing its strength.

But the "so what" argument became rather more stretched
when the UUP successfully tapped up the player manager of
another side, namely David Ervine of the PUP.

Those involved saw the deal as a clever move, which
increased the UUP's ministerial quota to three in any
restored executive, swinging the balance in favour of

'Deep distress'

But the deal's critics have portrayed it as a Faustian pact
to borrow a phrase David Trimble recently used about the
Orange Order.

According to this version, the UUP has abandoned its often
touted principle of "no guns, no government" for the
distant possibility of an extra ministerial car.

Ian Paisley has led the charge, and to counter his attack
Sir Reg has fallen back on the DUP's "history of
ambivalence towards militant loyalism".

One curious aspect is why the Ulster Unionists felt the
need to declare their hand on "Day One of the Hain
Assembly", given that the handout of ministerial seats may
never take place

We have heard the names of the "UUUC", "Ulster Resistance",
and the "Third Force" being intoned.

However, Sir Reg is more vulnerable to criticism from those
within his own ranks who do not have any history to shrug

The Ulster Unionists' only MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon,
expressed her "deep distress" over the move during a
Commons debate when she was ambushed by the DUP.

Then the Down district councillor Peter Bowles, who played
a key role in the launch of Sir Reg's leadership campaign,
told Inside Politics he felt "personally let down".

This is not least because he is left with the unenviable
task of trying to explain the decision to the people of
Loughinisland village, who do not need reminding about the
UVF massacre in the Heights bar.

New standing orders

One curious aspect is why the Ulster Unionists felt the
need to declare their hand on "Day One of the Hain
Assembly", given that the handout of ministerial seats may
never take place.

If it does, the rules have been changed so that party
strengths will be calculated on the day when any future
executive is formed.

By declaring their intent on Monday 15 May, the UUP has
taken a big and very real political risk for what appears
only to be a semi-distant theoretical payback.

Sir Reg says the late issue of the new standing orders on
Friday 12 May left him with no choice.

But on 8 May, Lord Rooker gave the UUP an assurance in
Parliament that the rule would be changed, an assurance
which with hindsight it might have been as well to accept.

Sir Reg believes not just the DUP, but elements in the
government want to stop the PUP-UUP deal.

He wonders whether this could be connected to an as yet
unpublished side deal on cutting the number of ministries
or subsuming policing and justice within the current number
of ministerial picks which each party will get.

Equally, it could be that a UUP-PUP pact adds an extra
complication to the government's overall game plan for
restoring power-sharing.

Some Ulster Unionists have tried to draw comparisons this
week between their move and John Hume's decision to reach
out to Gerry Adams in the early 1990s.

But despite all the unionist criticism of a "pan-
nationalist front", John Hume could never be accused of
putting the SDLP's partisan advantage before the party's

Right now, Sir Reg must be hoping that the UVF stay quiet
and hurry up their deliberations on ending paramilitary
activity and starting disarmament.

If that produces results, "tapping up" David Ervine could
yet pay off, if not it could turn out to be an own goal.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/05/20 09:32:17 GMT



Opin: Courageous Invitation A Challenge To Paisley

By Susan McKay

Michael McIlveen was just 15 when he was beaten to death by
loyalists in Ballymena 10 days ago. His mother, Gina, has
invited her MP, the Reverend Ian Paisley, to her son’s
funeral. This is a gesture which is as breathtakingly
generous as Gordon Wilson’s when he forgave the IRA after
it murdered his daughter Marie in 1987. Gina McIlveen has
asked the elected leader of the majority of the Protestant
people to be by her side as she buries her son, murdered by
Protestants because he was a Catholic. The invitation is
courageous. It also contains a challenge. She is asking the
DUP to show respect.

Paisley offered sympathy to the family and condemned the
murder but he also made excuses for it. The UDA recently
claimed that republicans had broken a deal under which the
UDA mural overlooking the Catholic church in Harryville and
other sectarian emblems would be removed in exchange for
the removal of tricolours from nationalist estates.
Speaking after Michael’s murder, Paisley said: “There’s
problems in Ballymena when people don’t keep their word.”
Last summer, Ian Paisley jnr predicted trouble if a
republican parade was allowed in the town. Loyalists were
intimidating and burning Catholics out of local villages at
the time and this campaign escalated.

There is a shocking level of sectarian violence in
Ballymena and the UDA is behind much of it, enlisting
teenagers into its Ulster Young Militants, filling their
heads with hatred and sending them out to fight. The UDA’s
quasi-political spokesmen condemned Michael’s murder and
called on the SDLP and Sinn Fein to combat an “evil, evil
campaign” in the nationalist community. This is presumably
a reference to the existence of a small number of Real IRA
supporters in Ballymena. Paisley is once again endorsing
the loyalist paramilitary analysis – loyalist violence is
defensive, a reaction to provocation.

Michael was three when the IRA called its ceasefire. Months
later, the loyalist paramilitaries followed, expressing
remorse the murders of innocents. He was seven when the
Good Friday Agreement was signed. Now he is dead, his brief
life ended by atavistic sectarian bigots. His community has
endured the agony of waiting for his body to be released
for his funeral. Gina McIlveen and her family are dealing
with their own shattering grief while helping Michael’s
young friends, who knew him as Mickybo, to express their
heartbreak at vigils and prayer meetings. They have thanked
Protestant friends for their solidarity. Michael’s 16-year-
old sister Jodie has helped the PSNI distribute leaflets
asking for those with information to give it to the police.
The family has been thrust into a role of leadership and
has taken on that responsibility.

Meanwhile, Paisley’s party marched into Stormont yesterday
only to reiterate its refusal to share power with those
democratically elected to represent the community to which
Michael belonged. North Antrim is Paisley’s heartland – and
in its capital, Ballymena, his party ruthlessly dominates
the council, holding all positions of power and refusing to
share them with nationalists. A tentative ‘good relations’
policy launched by the mayor after the sectarian violence
last year foundered when some DUP councillors opposed it.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness was right when he said that
this refusal to share power “is at one end of the scale
which ends up with a young Catholic lying dead on the
street”. The SDLP’s Sean Farren was right to criticise the
secretary of state for his ludicrous praise for Paisley’s
courage. “For 40 years he has deliberately set out to
sabotage any attempt at political progress and any
inclination in unionism towards reconciliation,” Mr Farren
said, adding that courage from Paisley is precisely what is
now needed. Unionism needs to take responsibility for
loyalism and to tell the paramilitaries, “The war is over.”
Paisley must lead his people to peace.

The principal of Michael’s school, Catherine Magee, said
last week that her biggest challenge was to give his
schoolfriends a sense of purpose and belief in the future.
She said that a lot of them were asking, “what does
anything matter now that Michael is gone?” The north’s
politicians need to answer these young people.

Most of the victims of the Troubles came from working-class
areas like the one where Michael lived – those areas are
still blighted.

They need immediate investment, with long-term support
structures for youth work and community development.

Mickybo’s generation is paying a high price for a conflict
in which they played no part. Paisley needs to have the
humility to listen to Gina McIlveen.


Opin: Condemnation On Its Own Is Never Enough

The Tuesday Column
By Breidge Gadd

Arriving back in Aldergrove a week ago after a wonderful
short break in Paris we turned on the news and tuned in
just as the Reverend Ian Paisley was commenting on the
dreadful sectarian murder of Michael McIlveen. The problem
was that some people had not kept their words about
removing flags, he said. Dear me, plus ca change, plus
c’est la meme chose. Subsequent events, however, showed a
different approach from the DUP leader. Hopefully that
radio broadcast was a momentary lapse, understandable in an
80-year-old man and that events afterward might, just
might, signal the turning point for the DUP, its supporters
and all of us in this country.

The relationship of Michael’s family with Dr Paisley
interestingly is not untypical of many Catholic’s
experience of the man. Help sought and delivered by a
constituency MP with an impressive track record who
assiduously helps everyone, irrespective of their colour or
creed. Then on the other hand, he gave the impression that
heightened tensions arose from a failure by republicans to
remove those flags as previously agreed. It would have been
better if he had stuck to the statement that this murder
was reprehensibly and totally the responsibility of the

However, the DUP are not alone in failing to see the sins
amongst their own supporters. It is a set of actions and
reactions, well practised by all of us who live here.

Last week, one hopes, was the beginning of a recognition
from all sides that blaming others for the problem was not
going to work anymore. People known for their previous
intransigence talked about having to learn to live together
and about having a shared future. It has taken a long time
to get there but maybe we have genuinely started down that
road together.

Yet, how do we begin to deal with the problems? Well, it
isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. We can start by
using soft words and relatively non-threatening approaches.
Learning to welcome diversity; planning a shared future
together; being better citizens; developing good relations
but if we are going to face the real problems, sooner or
later we need to face up to the issue of the amount of
inherent tribalism within us that prevents us from seeing
fellow citizens as equal and as important as ourselves. It
is generally accepted that for some the origins of their
tribalism is fear – fear that if the other side, or tribe,
is given equality they will become less equal. This is a
difficult one because sometimes that fear is not groundless
simply because they were led to believe that they occupied
a superior position in the first place. Combine this sense
of loss with sectarianism, itself defined by fundamentalist
religious beliefs often leading to a resolute prejudice
against other creeds and as in places like Bible-belt
Ballymena you have an extremely potent mix. Condemnation of
racist and sectarian behaviour is essential but
condemnation on its own will not be enough. If it is not
accompanied by ways of understanding why people feel
threatened, condemnation can actually solidify the
tribalism inherent in the group and further consolidate
their isolation. There seems to be little doubt that young
men in Ballymena from the Protestant tradition feel that
their way of life is under threat and that Catholics are
growing in number, wealth and influence and that they (the
Protestants) will be the losers. The leaders whom they
admire and follow, too often, seem unable to resist the
temptation to confirm their worst fears. This thorny issue
needs to be addressed and these young people need to be
helped to see the positive win-win possibilities in a
society that includes more Catholics (and indeed more
people of diverse races). They need to be assured that this
can be their future – by their own leaders. Ways also need
to be found to raise their self-esteem and their self-
confidence so that they learn to cope with difference and
diversity. Their political leaders, starting with their own
behaviour in council meetings, could begin to respect
others and establish the reality that dominance by any one
party or group is very much a thing of the past.


Opin: Catholic Rights Are Secondary To Unionist Needs

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

The most disturbing aspect of the comments attributed to
Ballymena DUP councillor Roy Gillespie about the murdered
school boy Michael McIlveen is that they are widespread
although usually unspoken among sections of the unionist
and Protestant people.

Gillespie’s reported remark that 15-year-old Michael “will
not get into heaven” is sourced in his biblical belief,
which is reflected in the same statement that, “the Pope is
the antichrist and is head of the Catholic Church, which is
not a true church or faith”.

Although such views are outrageous, insulting and
insensitive to the murdered youth’s family, friends and the
Catholic community of Ballymena and beyond, Gillespie is
unlikely to face censure before the law for incitement to
hatred or be disciplined by the leadership of the DUP.

Michael McIlveen was hunted down as if he was little more
than an animal on a savannah who wandered into a gang of
predators hungry for a ‘kill’. He was pursued relentlessly,
separated out from his friends, his only source of
protection, harried for half-a-mile, surrounded, cornered
and then bludgeoned.

Michael was killed because he was a Catholic.

Although to many within the unionist and Protestant
population Catholics are every bit as threatening as
nationalists or republicans.

There is a danger that negative influences can be received
through political parties, churches and organisations like
the Orange Order and loyalist paramilitaries.

Sectarianism weaves its way insidiously through sections of
the unionist and Protestant population.

It emerges publicly in an attitude which sees Catholics as
less than full human beings.

Sectarianism, in its most extreme theological form, exists
inside the Bible-based Free Presbyterian Church led by Ian
Paisley. It is politically expressed by his party, the DUP,
which is an extension of his church.

Ian Paisley did not create this mix of politics and
religion. It exists among Protestants and can be traced
back through various firebrand clerics for at least two

Paisley inherited this mix and shaped it into a formidable
political force.

Sectarianism in its rawest form kills and the death of
Michael McIlveen is the most recent example.

He is the third young Catholic killed in as many years by
gangs of Protestants.

Fifteen-year-old Thomas Devlin was stabbed to death on
Belfast’s Somerton Road and James McMahon (21) was kicked
to death outside Lisburn Council offices.

Sectarianism also exists among many Catholics, nationalists
and republicans and has resulted over the years in
Protestants being killed and attacked.

Partition and the consolidation of the unionist and
Protestant population into the six counties led to
sectarianism being institutionalised and legitimised with
state authority.

This led to a prevailing attitude that Catholics lives are
expendable in the face of the denial of perceived
Protestants’ rights such as marching down Garvaghy Road.

It matters little that several Catholics including the
three Quinn boys were killed because the Orange Order
insisted on marching this road.

Other Catholic children such as those in Holy Cross felt
the fury of sectarian abuse from Protestants while David
Trimble spoke about Sinn Fein needing to be “house

This week the UUP covered in a cloak of unionist
respectability an organisation of dedicated Catholic
killers, the UVF, when they absorbed the PUP leader into
its Assembly ranks.

This UUP-UVF alliance confirms the experience of northern
Catholics – their rights have always been secondary to
unionist needs.

Although there are many individual unionists and
Protestants challenging sectarianism in their own community
Catholics like Michael McIlveen will always be in danger
until that sectarianism is rooted out of mainstream
unionism and Protestantism.


Opin: Cunning Plan Is ‘Assisted Suicide’ For UUP

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

So farewell the PUP. Instead of PUP/UVF it’s now UUP/UVF,
as some members of the assembly murmured while the UUP went
to sign the assembly roll on Monday.

Farewell the prospect of any working-class based unionist

Farewell too Davy Ervine because, given the collapse of his
party’s fortunes, he knows he’ll never be elected again.

In the end that’s probably why he threw in his lot with the
fur coat brigade he has so often derided instead of staying
with the 9mm brigade. Now unionists know if you vote PUP
you get UUP.

It’s the end of a project which began 32 years ago in
September 1974.

The UVF front the Volunteer Political Party stood in West
Belfast in the October 1974 British general election five
months after the UWC strike during which the UVF killed
scores of people in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and in
random sectarian carnage in the north.

Gerry Fitt trounced them. The VPP got 2,690 votes. Fitt got

Instead of the VPP, unionists preferred the DUP candidate,
the ranting extremist Johnny McQuade. He polled 16,265. So,
no change there.

Ervine has finally conceded that the unionist vote is a
purely tribal vote. He has given up and returned to
sectarian politics.

All that rubbish he used to spout about supporting left-
wing politics was just hot air. He’s joined the most
conservative group in the sham assembly with an economics
spokesman who makes Lady Hacksaw sound like Che Guevara.

No matter. For Ervine, as he kept repeating to the cameras
on Monday, all that counts is maximising the unionist vote.

Oh dear. If the assembly ever gets up and running he’s
going to have to eat a lot of those big words he loves to
learn to pronounce.

This was the guy who raised the scandal of the appalling
education system which, in some years in the poorest
unionist districts like the Shankill, produced not a single
11-plus pass and in good years saw one pupil get through.

He deplored the UUP insistence on maintaining the grammar
system which perpetuated that inequality. Now he’s going to
be in the UUP group voting to continue the very system he
attacked. Yuk.

In some respects it’s a return to basics. Unionism used to
be a tribal all-class alliance until Paisley’s toxic
cocktail of rabid anti-Catholicism and working-class
populism split its monolith.

Before the DUP there was always a place for guys like
Ervine in the Ulster Unionist Party, as long as they knew
their place, which was to misrepresent a middle-class party
in a working-class district in Belfast.

Oh yes, Ervine will still spout socialist rhetoric. In fact
that will be his role in the UUP assembly group, a working-
class gas-bag sitting beside that famous orator, the UUP’s
other working-class mascot, Fred Cobain.

Like Cobain, Ervine can emit all the vapour he likes and
you do have to feel sympathy for the UUP assembly group
when you think of the length of their meetings with Ervine
holding forth.

He can talk all he likes but he will not get a single
motion through the group. The UUP has captured him and his

He can’t escape, because if he tries, he will look an even
bigger ass having somersaulted twice.

What’s in it for Ervine? The ability to report the inner
workings of the UUP group to the UVF? Hardly riveting

No. Could it be simple vanity? A rush of blood to the head?
Courted by the UUP, a momentary delusion of grandeur.

‘Yes, I can be a king-maker. Yes, I can say I’ll support
him for minister but not him. I can turn the tables on Sinn

Nope. Fatal move. Ervine’s apostasy will only have an
impact on internal unionist politics.

Ervine will bite the dust with the UUP in the next
election, which there will be.

The DUP’s Peter Weir put it best. For the UUP to take on
board a member whose party represents the UVF, a group not
even on ceasefire, which deals in murder, drugs and
prostitution in loyalist districts, is, said Weir,
“assisted suicide” for the UUP. So maybe that’s Ervine’s
cunning plan?


Opin: Scrambled Principles Leave Egg On UUP Face

By Newton Emerson

Where do you even begin to highlight the hypocrisy of the
UUP deal with David Ervine?

It took the party 100 years to detach itself from the
Orange Order and 10 seconds to get into bed with the UVF.

A flash-flood at the Balmoral Show could not have flushed
out more prize Ulster bullshit. Decommissioning,
decontamination, ‘decent people’ – a decade of supposedly
principled stands have all been sold out for an extra
minister in an executive that will probably never meet.
Let’s get one thing clear right from the start. This is
not, as some Ulster Unionists have already claimed, a
‘Hume-Adams’ breakthrough to bring loyalists into the
political process.

Mr Ervine has been firmly ensconced in the political
process for more than 12 years, during which the UVF has
murdered 28 people, engaged in unchanging levels of crime,
intimidation and extortion and refused to hand over a
single weapon.

The Independent Monitoring Commission – a body created
entirely at the behest of the Ulster Unionists – declared
just three weeks ago that the UVF “continues to be
responsible for a range of criminal activities, including
violence, and it continues to display behaviour indicating
that it intends to remain in paramilitary business”.

Of course, throughout those 12 years of ‘post-ceasefire’
UVF activity, Mr Ervine has been careful to say all the
right things at all the right moments. He has expressed
remorse for the past, frustration with the present and hope
for the future.

He has promised dialogue, progress – and even resignation
if UVF members were found to be responsible for racist
attacks. However, none of this has made any difference. So
either Mr Ervine is completely useless or his rhetorical
devices are a sophisticated hoax – albeit one now all too
capable of blowing up in Ulster Unionist faces. Then there
are those awkward moments when David doesn’t say the right
things – such as defending a mural of the Miami Showband
murderers, or expressing “no sympathy” with the victims of
a loyalist feud.

Oddly, it is often republicans who leap to his defence on
such occasions, seduced as they are by Mr Ervine’s
trademark working-class claptrap.

Analysing loyalism in these terms might well appeal to
anti-sectarian theorists but this ignores the fact that an
enormous number of working-class people somehow managed to
get through the Troubles without once ending up handcuffed
to a car bomb on the Holywood Road.

So what excuse does the UUP have to humour Mr Ervine’s

It is only two weeks since the Ulster Unionists announced a
“selective boycott” of the Policing Board following the
appointment of Mr Ervine’s PUP colleague Dawn Purvis. Will
the UUP-UVF now have to ‘selectively boycott’ itself?

It can only be a matter of weeks before the Public
Prosecution Service runs out of excuses for withholding the
police ombudsman’s report into collusion in the Mount
Vernon UVF.

When that unholy nexus of murder, corruption and
incompetence blows wide open the Ulster Unionists will be
needlessly implicated by association – yet there is now
nothing they can say in their defence that will not cause
either their dirty deal to unravel or their flimsy platform
to collapse. Curious to see how the party plans to explain
this to its long-suffering supporters. I looked up its
official website but there was no mention at all of the
sudden loyalist link-up. There was, however, a Chinese
translation of ‘Northern Ireland Unionist Party’ at the top
of the main page. ‘Ireland’ was rendered phonetically with
the character for ‘Love’. No doubt that will be a great
consolation to Belfast’s Chinese community when the Sandy
Row UVF next tries to burn them out.

In retrospect, I should have seen this coming. I recently
met two Ulster Unionist party officers for a very pleasant
lunch, during which I complained self-righteously and at
length about NIO and DUP pandering towards loyalism.

“But if it works, isn’t it the right thing to do?” replied
one, innocently. Well, perhaps – but carrots don’t work
without sticks.

The purpose of the UUP is to represent unionists who
genuinely want no part in sneaky regardism – sending a
clear signal to loyalists that a security solution is
always an option. That signal is now scrambled, along with
everything else the UUP has ever broadcast. If you are the
unionist that voting UUP always made you think you were,
then you now have no choice but to wait for a new party to
emerge from Sir Reg Empey’s rubble. Fortunately, after this
week, that wait won’t be long.


Ireland Lays Claim To Potentially Oil-Rich Seas

Ireland is laying claim to ownership of a potentially oil
or gas rich patch of international waters hundreds of miles
south-west of Kerry.

In a joint submission to the United Nations Spain, France
and the United Kingdom have joined Ireland in a bid to
secure control of the area known as the Celtic Shelf. The
area is some 200 nautical miles from shore.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern predicted that if
successful, Ireland could reap massive dividends as demand
for oil and gas soars in the next few decades.

"In years to come Ireland's claim for a much greater slice
of the seas hundreds of miles off our coast will be seen as
tremendously significant," he said. "We probably don't have
either the technologies or the economics of scale to work
in such waters but as energy prices continue to soar and
become scarcer and our ability to tap these resources is
realised, our exclusive exploration rights to such vast
expanse of ocean will pay dividends for the generations to

"We are effectively locking up control of thousands of
square kilometres of unexplored seabed deep into the mid
and south Atlantic for our children and their children."

The Celtic Shelf, which covers an area the size of Ireland,
is situated between on the Celtic Sea and the Bay of

Ireland could be in line for more than 30 per cent of the

The submission will be made in June to the UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea chaired by Dr Peter Croker from the
Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
Officials will study it over the next few years and, if
accepted, the four countries will be obliged to thrash out
a deal to secure a chunk of the waters.

Ireland has already laid claim to a zone north of this
known as the Porcupine Basin and a decision on this by the
UN is expected in August.

© The Irish Times/


Fresh Efforts To Lure Elusive Corncrake To Rathlin Island

By Keith Bourke

Conservationists on Rathlin Island are hoping to attract
the once-familiar cry of the corncrake to its shores.

Alison McFall, an officer for the Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds (RSPB) on the island off the Co Antrim
coast, said the charity was doing its best to create a good
habitat in Northern Ireland for the elusive bird.

“The corncrake was once very common here but in the last 10
years we’ve only had one sighting,” she said.

“Calling males have been heard in recent years and here on
Rath-lin we are trying to make conditions appropriate for
their return.

“It’s still early days but we’re doing our best to get them
to re-turn naturally by making sure their natural habitat
of hay mea-dow is available to them and cover like cow
parsley which attracts them is on the island.”

The RSPB discovered a male corncrake in the Belfast Harbour
Nature reserve last year – the first recorded sighting in
more than a decade.

There was once a small number of corncrakes in Co Fermanagh
during the 1990s but they have since died out. In December
the corncrake was identified as among species closest to
extinction in Ireland.

An all-Ireland plan was drawn up in an effort to protect

The corncrake is the only Irish breeding bird threatened
with global extinction.

Known more for its far-carrying cry than its plumages, the
bird used to be common in hay fields across Ireland.

But changes in farming practice in the 1970s and a switch
from hay to silage production des-troyed the corncrake’s
habitat, forcing it to breed elsewhere.

The bird’s call is best described by its onomatopoeic Latin
name – crex crex.

The RSPB’s corncrake grant scheme compensates farmers for
only taking one cut of silage if a bird is heard calling in
their fields.

In the Republic numbers have increased in recent years,
with 162 singling males recorded last summer.

“The support for the Corncrake Grant Scheme in Ireland is
encouraging,” a spokesman for BirdWatch Ireland said.


Irish Civil War Flick At Cannes

By Staff Reporter

Radical British filmmaker Ken Loach brought politics to the
Cannes Film Festival yesterday when he used the showcasing
of his new film, set around the Irish Civil War, to attack
the government over the Iraq conflict.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is one of 20 films in
competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Festival.

The movie, starring Irish actors Cillian Murphy and Liam
Cunningham, is said to be one of the most violent and
controversial films made by the director of Kes,

Poor Cow and Cathy Come Home.

The 69-year-old filmmaker told a press conference at the
summer festival that the film’s story applied to modern-day

Loach, who is known as a political filmmaker, said: “I
think the story of a struggle for independence is a story
that reoccurs and

reoccurs and reoccurs so it’s always a good time to tell
that story.

“There are always armies of occupation somewhere in the
world being resisted by the people they’re occupying and I
don’t need to tell anyone here where the British now
illegally have an army of occ-upation and the damage in
casualties and brutality that is emerging from that.”

He said the history of the Irish Civil War was not
discussed in Britain and said: “It’s as though the Irish
can’t stop fighting themselves.

“That’s how it’s presented.”

He described the war as an “appalling scar” on the British
and US governments’ record.

The £4.5m film’s screenwriter Paul Laverty also used
yesterday’s press conference to attack Chancellor Gordon
Brown for “being prepared to rewrite history and totally
ignore the history of torture, brutality, slavery and
murder and what the British Empire was responsible for”.

Laverty said: “There is something fascinating about how
empires rewrite their history.

“This Saturday will be the 500th anniversary of the death
of Columbus... what we forget is that he kidnapped the
Indians, as he called them, set dogs on them, he mutilated
people. We see history rewriting itself and we see it again
about the British Empire. When I was at school I learned
nothing about the British Empire. There is this idea of the
civilising mission of our empire. If we were given an
objective history I don’t people would be prepared to
believe those lies again about Iraq. We need to look at our
curriculum, our history.

“Gordon Brown said in 2005 that we must stop apologising
for the empire but I have never heard anyone apologise for

Loach said the film was not anti-British but anti-actions
of the British government and said: “People confuse the
government with the people.

“You can’t not be critical about the actions of the Brit-
ish government but the film is not anti-British, because
the British people were subject to the same kind of

He said the wartime leader Winston Churchill was quite
indiscriminate about where he sent troops when the class
interests were at stake.

Loach made his comeback in the 1990s with the film Hidden
Agenda, described by a Tory MP at the time as the ‘IRA’s
entry at Cannes’.

He said the history of the Irish conflict was not seen as a
“sexy subject” in Britain but it was the “elephant in our
living room”.

The film is expected to open across Europe but no buyers
have yet been found in the US.

Loach joked: “If you could chuck a little note to George
Bush and tell him you have just seen a wonderful film about
republicans I think we would get the film in 3,000

But Batman Begins star Murphy, said: “The film means a lot.
I’m tremendously proud.

“The way Ken works is that actors aren’t privy to the
finished script so come on board on faith alone.

“I’m aware that this history touched my family in the past
many years ago.”

Loach’s films have been selected for competition before but
he has not yet won the big prize.

He was awarded the Cannes Special Jury prize twice, for
Hidden Agenda in 1990 and Raining Stones in 1993 and the
Ecumenical Jury prize for Land And Freedom in 1995. The
winner of the prestigious award is being announced on
Sunday May 28.

The stars of The Wind That Shakes The Barley later graced
the red carpet for the premiere of their film in Cannes.

The cast received a standing ovation when they walked into
the auditorium screening the film.

Padraic Delaney, who plays IRA leader Teddy O’Donovan, said
he could connect the film to his own heritage.

“I can still walk through some of my father’s fields and
see the unmarked graves of people who were shot by the
Black and Tans or the Aux-iliaries,” he said.

“Some were left to die in ditches.

“You see the ruins of houses where people had to evacuate
because of fear and intimidation.”

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

<< Home

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