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May 28, 2006

Parties To Decide On Key Committee Role

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 05/29/06 Parties To Decide On Key Committee Role
IT 05/29/06 More Time For Dublin Bombings Inquiry
TE 05/28/06 SF Denies Claim That McGuinness Spied For The British
BG 05/28/06 Mitchell Reiss: Our Man In Ireland
IT 05/29/06 Tributes Paid To Land League Founder
IT 05/29/05 Irish Lead Actor 'Absolutely Thrilled'
BN 05/28/06 Minister Hails Award-Winning Film
IT 05/29/06 Huge Stalactite On View To Public In Clare
IT 05/29/06 Maps Show Emigration Patterns Before Famine
IT 05/29/06 Eyre 'Plaza' Puts Galway Back In Business
IT 05/29/06 Eyre Square: What The Public Thinks


Parties To Decide On Key Committee Role

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The North's main political parties will decide tomorrow
whether to participate in the Assembly committee designed
to establish what obstacles must be overcome to restore

Northern Secretary Peter Hain last week set a deadline of
tomorrow for the parties to say whether they would engage
with the all-party committee. Sinn Féin, the SDLP and, to a
lesser extent, the Ulster Unionist Party complained that Mr
Hain had capitulated to DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley in
restricting the role of this committee.

This body could be of importance as it effectively would
set the agenda for the political negotiations that the
Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony
Blair are due to hold with the political parties at the end
of June.

Dr Paisley insisted last week that the DUP would not be a
part of any committee that would involve face-to-face talks
with Sinn Féin. This in turn led to Mr Hain making a
commitment in the House of Commons that the committee would
not have a negotiating role; rather that its purpose was to
identify obstacles to restoring devolution.

Conflicting signals emerged from the DUP last week over the
remit of the body, with DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson
initially appearing comfortable with the proposal. Dr
Paisley, however, said his party would not sit on the
committee with Sinn Féin, later modifying his position to
opposing the committee having any negotiating function.

The proposal currently is that the four main parties should
have three members each on the committee and the Alliance
party should have two. While Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the
UUP were prepared to have leading members participating,
the indications so far from the DUP are that it would
nominate middle-ranking MLAs.

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, complained
at the weekend that the DUP was causing a "tremendous
amount of confusion" over the issue. "They have big
decisions to make and we as much as anybody else are very
keen to hear if they are going to move forward with us to
bring about the restoration of these institutions," he

"At the minute the soundings coming from the DUP are not
that encouraging and I think that has caused great
confusion," Mr McGuinness told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside
Politics programme.

He said that the British and Irish governments and the
parties should move on without the DUP if it was not
prepared to engage properly with the other parties in
seeking to restore devolution.

The Assembly is not sitting today as it is a bank holiday
in Northern Ireland. Neither is it sitting tomorrow, and it
remains unclear whether the Assembly will convene next

"If it becomes clear to us by the end of June that the DUP
are not prepared to play their part, then our message to
the two governments will be very clear: close the
Assembly," said Mr McGuinness.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said yesterday that
his party would support any motion that moved the political
situation forward, but that he had concerns about
"conflicting messages" being sent by Mr Hain about the role
of the committee.

"If Peter Hain sustains his private assurances to us that
the committee will scope out the obstacles to the
restoration of devolution, then we would be broadly
favourable to the committee. But we need assurances that he
will abandon his efforts to pander to Paisley," added Dr

A UUP spokesman said the party would participate in the
committee as the idea for the body was first proposed by
party leader Sir Reg Empey.

© The Irish Times


More Time For Dublin Bombings Inquiry

Stephen Collins, Political Correspondent

The Commission of Investigation into the Dublin and
Monaghan Bombings will be given a further extension if it
makes a request for more time to conclude a final report, a
Government spokesman has said.

He said the commission had indicated to officials in recent
days that it may request a further extension. In that case,
it is expected that a request for an extension, along with
a further interim report, would be submitted in the next
few days.

The sole member of the commission, Patrick MacEntee, has
already requested a number of extensions to establish if
documents and information in the possession of security
services could be obtained.

He is due to submit his report by Wednesday, but another
extension now seems likely. The Government spokesman said
that if an extension is granted, as with all previous
interim reports, the Taoiseach will bring it to Cabinet and
then publish it.

When the final report is received by the Taoiseach, he will
be required by law to consider certain issues prior to
publication. This is likely to involve requesting legal
advice from the Attorney General. He would also wish to
submit it to the Cabinet prior to publication.

The spokesman said that the timescale involved between
receipt of the report and publication is impossible to
estimate, but that the Taoiseach would wish to see the
report published.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Fein Denies Press Claim That McGuinness Spied For The British

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 29/05/2006)

The claims and counterclaims that have defined Northern
Ireland's intelligence war took an unexpected twist
yesterday when Sinn Fein dismissed allegations that Martin
McGuinness spied for the British.

Martin McGuinness, Denis Donaldson and Gerry Adams

The claim, made in a Sunday newspaper by a former agent
handler, came after months of rumours suggesting that
another senior figure at the heart of Sinn Fein was about
to be exposed as a spy. Sinn Fein swiftly denied the
allegation that Mr McGuinness worked for MI6 during the
early 1990s, describing it as "nonsense".

The denial was made amid an atmosphere of deep suspicion
within republican circles. Last year's outing of Denis
Donaldson, the former head of Sinn Fein administration, as
a British agent caused speculation that there were more
moles among the republican elite.

Mr Donaldson's murder in a remote cottage in Glenties, Co
Donegal, last month suggested that betrayal of the
republican cause still carries the death penalty.

Sinn Fein said the McGuinness allegation, carried by the
Irish tabloid Sunday World, was "rubbish".

Should the notion that Sinn Fein's chief negotiator was a
"tout" gain any credence it would be deeply damaging to the
republican movement.

"We have heard this all before," a Sinn Fein spokesman

"It is rubbish." he added. "It is nonsense. Anybody with
half a wit will treat it with the contempt that it rightly

Yesterday Mr McGuinness attended a Gaelic football match
between Derry and Tyroneat Omagh. He declined to make any

The allegation came less than a week after Gerry Adams's
failed attempt to install Mr McGuinness as a Sinn Fein
deputy first minister during the most recent attempt to
restore devolution at Stormont.

The Sunday World article quoted Martin Ingram, a former
agent handler who unmasked Freddie Scappaticci as a British
spy two years ago.

Before Mr Donaldson, the exposing of Scappaticci, the head
of the IRA's internal security, as the agent Stakeknife was
the highest-profile spy case to rock the Provisional

The newspaper published an undated document, which Mr
Ingram claimed to be the transcript of a conversation
between Mr McGuinness and an MI6 handler.

Mr McGuinness is not mentioned by name, but Mr Ingram
claimed that the codename J118 referred to him.

The document outlines dialogue between J118 and a handler,
denoted as G.

According to Mr Ingram, they discuss plans for the IRA's
"human bomb" strategy of 1990.

In the first human bomb attack, the IRA's Patsy Gillespie
drove an explosive device to a vehicle checkpoint at
Coshquin on the Donegal border.

A booby-trapped door resulted in the bomb being detonated
while he sat in the driver's seat.

Gillespie was killed along with five soldiers from the
Kings Regiment.

The document showed J118 saying that everyone was "geared
up for it". It also showed G reassuring J118 that "no one
can point the finger at you".

G also tells J118 not to worry about IRA members who wanted
to take the human bomb campaign to Belfast, adding: "We
will look after things in that department, you just
concentrate on the checkpoints."

Interviewed in the Sunday World, Mr Ingram claimed that Mr
McGuinness's MI6 handlers encouraged the IRA to go for the
human bomb campaign to provoke a backlash against the

He suggested that the five British soldiers were sacrificed
as a "means to an end". Mr Ingram said: "They play the long
game, not the short game. To them solving the problems in
Ireland was a marathon, not a sprint."

Yesterday, however, a security source told The Daily
Telegraph that it was "nonsense" that MI6 would pursue such
a strategy.

The exposure of Mr Donaldson as a British agent of 20 years
standing provided evidence that Sinn Fein had been
infiltrated at the highest levels. Nevertheless, for
devoted republicans it would be unthinkable for Mr
McGuinness to be a British spy. With Mr Adams, the Sinn
Fein president, he has masterminded the party's political
strategy and his republican credentials are regarded as

During the Saville Inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday
shootings, he admitted that he was an adjutant (second in
command) in the Derry Brigade of the IRA.

His membership of the IRA led to him serving a jail
sentence in the Irish Republic.

Mr McGuinness has claimed that he left the IRA in the mid-
1970s to concentrate on his work with Sinn Fein, the
Provisionals' political wing.

Since then, however, it has been repeatedly alleged that he
and Mr Adams had remained IRA key figures and were members
of the seven-strong army council.

Both men have denied that they were on the council.

Mr McGuinness was elected to the House of Commons in 1997,
but has never taken his seat, refusing to swear an oath of
allegiance to the Queen.

More recently he was the education minister in the last
power-sharing administration.


Mitchell Reiss: Our Man In Ireland

Can a Jewish guy from Newton nudge Northern Ireland toward
the promised land?

By Kevin Cullen May 28, 2006

SOMETIMES, WHEN HE'S got one of them in the corner, trying
to persuade the famously conservative politicians in
Northern Ireland to consign history to the dustbin and move
on, Mitchell B. Reiss, President Bush's special envoy,
can't help but think that they're looking at him funny.

``Sometimes," he admitted recently, walking through Boston
Common on the way to visit his parents at their Back Bay
home, ``I think they're thinking, `Right, he's a Jew. But
is he a Catholic Jew, or a Protestant Jew?"'

That a Jewish guy who grew up in Newton, and went to
Williams College and Tufts University, might be the one who
helps lead the Irish and the British down that final
stretch to the promised land of peaceful coexistence says a
lot about how the American approach to the Anglo-Irish
conflict has changed. Traditionally, American interests in
the conflict were divided between those of Irish ancestry,
on the one hand, who sided with Irish nationalism, and a
White House policy, on the other, that deferred to Britain
in the view that, whatever the merits of the dispute over
the six counties of Northern Ireland, it was a matter of
domestic British politics.

Reiss, with an ethnic and religious background rarely
encountered in Anglo-Irish relations, and a professional
background that includes negotiating nuclear
nonproliferation issues with the likes of North Korea,
embodies the growing sophistication of American policy in
Ireland: No longer is it presumed in Washington that only
politicians named Kennedy and O'Neill, or congressmen with
heavily Irish constituencies, should get involved in the
effort to take the guns out of Irish politics.

Reiss may like to joke about his Jewish background, but he
also acknowledges it could be a boon to his work. Without
baggage in the Anglo-Irish conflict, he believes he has
eased suspicions about American intentions, especially
among Protestant unionists who tend to think that White
House policy has a hidden agenda written by Irish

As Reiss sees it, his agenda is to use American influence
to guide the peace process through a promising but
dangerous time. Last July, the IRA said its armed struggle
was over, and international observers said the IRA had
destroyed its hidden arsenal. But the Rev. Ian Paisley, the
Protestant preacher who leads the Democratic Unionists,
Northern Ireland's largest political party, isn't
convinced-or at least he isn't ready to share power with
the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, or its leader, Gerry

Yet that's what needs to happen, and soon. The Irish and
British governments are hinting they might do something
dramatic-such as give Dublin a greater role in the day-to-
day governing of Northern Ireland, which unionists consider
abhorrent-unless the parties can establish a power-sharing
agreement by Nov. 24.

``I can't think of a time when our involvement has been
more important," Reiss said. ``Especially given the
consequences if we don't succeed."

. . .

Two weeks ago, a 15-year-old Catholic boy was beaten to
death in Ballymena, Paisley's hometown, in what police said
was a sectarian attack. Paisley visited the boy's family,
and the murder has produced rare cross-community pledges to
stamp out sectarianism. But outrage over individual murders
has a way of fading, replaced by the sort of intransigence
that has long defined Northern Ireland's political culture.

Reiss doesn't believe there will be an all-out return to
the violence of the past. But he does worry that, despite
more than a decade of relative peace, the vacuum created by
political instability has allowed sectarianism to increase.
There are now more than 60 ``peace walls" separating
Catholic and Protestant enclaves, nearly three times the
number in 1994, when the IRA called a cease-fire.

Reiss's position is that until the politicians put aside
their differences and sit down on an equal basis, it is
unrealistic to expect poor, vulnerable people in the
Catholic and Protestant housing projects to do so. Drawing
on his experience negotiating with the North Koreans on
nuclear weapons (as chief counsel for the Korean Peninsula
Energy Development Organization, a multinational group
created to address weapons proliferation in North Korea),
Reiss has tried to frame the final resolution of the Anglo-
Irish conflict in a wide context, pushing the Irish and
British to see beyond the sometimes narrow confines of
Ulster politics.

The kind of impartial, hands-on approach Reiss is
practicing began under the administration of Bill Clinton,
whose special envoy to Ireland, former Senate Majority
Leader George Mitchell of Maine, moderated talks that
eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement. Most Irish-
Americans involved in the peace process expected a sharp
drop off in White House interest when George W. Bush
replaced Clinton. But if Bush doesn't seem as personally
involved as his predecessor, his administration has spent
considerable political capital applying a steadying hand to
Northern Ireland, something for which Bush deserves more
credit, says Reiss.

Even when the IRA broke its cease-fire pledges-with some of
its members accused of training FARC rebels in Colombia,
robbing a Belfast bank of $50 million, and murdering a 33-
year-old Belfast man in a barroom dispute-the Bush
administration resisted unionist demands, and perhaps its
own instincts, to cast Sinn Fein from the peace process.
But the administration has also been unafraid to embarrass
Sinn Fein, refusing a visa for its US representative after
she strayed from her travel itinerary on a previous visit,
and refusing to let Adams attend fund-raisers in the US
unless and until Sinn Fein endorses the overwhelmingly
Protestant police force, a quid pro quo that galls Sinn
Fein officials.

Reiss has taken care to stress to both sides that while the
Americans are there to help, the parties on the ground have
to make the final deal-and that the democratic institutions
they establish will keep their rivals in check.

``This gets back to what diplomats can achieve," Reiss
explained. ``You can't create or guarantee results. You can
create situations for success. I can't force Sinn Fein or
the DUP to do the right thing. But we can encourage them.
Ultimately, it will be up to them."

Joe Leary, who heads the Irish-American Partnership in
Boston, a philanthropic organization that helps both
nationalist and unionist groups, admits he was pleasantly
surprised by Reiss's authoritative grasp of the situation,
despite being a newcomer to the Anglo-Irish issue when
Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed him as special
envoy in July 2003.

``He gets the issues," said Leary, who recently held a
lunch for Reiss at Locke-Ober, attended by two dozen
influential Irish-American businessmen. ``But what's
amazing is how well he understands the individuals, the
characters, and the nuances. It's like he's been doing this
all along."

Reiss considers it a badge of honor that he has been, at
different times, criticized by republicans and unionists.
He has told republicans they have no good reason not to
join the civilian board that oversees policing; he has told
unionists they need to be more forceful in their opposition
to loyalist paramilitary groups that continue to kill
Catholics at random.

``We don't play favorites. If we see something, we call
people on it," said Reiss. ``We acknowledge that progress
has been made, but we're not satisfied. It's about
transitions to democracy. Northern Ireland is seen as a
success story. We don't want to drop the ball on it."

Taking a cue from another Jewish statesman, Israel's prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, Reiss has tried to emphasize to
Irish republicans and British unionists that you don't make
peace with your friends, but with your enemies. While it
may have been the moderates who got the peace process off
the ground, it will be those once dismissed as extremists-
Paisley's Democratic Unionists and Adams's Sinn Fein-who
will ultimately prevent it from running aground.

Last week, Adams offered to nominate his nemesis, the Rev.
Paisley, to the top slot in the Northern Ireland assembly.
Paisley, however, accused Adams of a cheap publicity stunt,
and reiterated his party's position that the IRA has not
really gone away and they are not ready to sit in
government with its political wing. Some pundits said these
latest developments didn't bode well for a process that is
supposed to culminate with a resumption of power sharing.
But Reiss didn't see it as anything more than both sides
appealing to their bases.

Diplomats, it has been suggested, are like poker players:
They don't worry about losing a hand now and then, as long
as they win the big pot. In Northern Ireland, Reiss says,
the big pot has to be won before Nov. 24. Then Ian Paisley
and Gerry Adams can say whatever they want about each
other, as long as it's in the confines of Stormont, the
local parliament building.

``If they can form a government in Baghdad," Reiss says,
``they can form a government in Belfast."

Kevin Cullen is the Globe's former bureau chief in Dublin
and London. E-mail

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


Tributes Paid To Land League Founder

Paul Cullen

Land League founder Michael Davitt has never received the
tributes he deserved in spite of being at least 100 years
ahead of his time, former president Mary Robinson has said.

Mrs Robinson said that Davitt, in making the transition
from armed revolutionary to political organiser and then
parliamentarian, had forged a path that was later followed
by many others.

She was speaking yesterday at a conference in Dublin held
to mark the centenary of Davitt's death. Mrs Robinson drew
parallels between many of the issues Davitt campaigned for
in the 19th century and present-day challenges.

While Davitt had been motivated by the plight of the
landless poor, in the modern world there was still massive
displacement of people. In Darfur, Sudan for example, up to
two million people were displaced, and lacked proper
protection in spite of the promises of the world.

Davitt would have appreciated the need to address the land
issue in post-colonial situations, she said. Where the
issue was not resolved, as in Zimbabwe today, events were
likely to end in tragedy.

Davitt also valued the role of women more than any of his
colleagues, and was ahead of his peers in arguing for
common cause between the English working class and Irish
peasants, she added.

Former Labour minister Justin Keating told the conference
that Davitt was the bravest politician of the 19th century.
He was the first political leader to say terrorism was not
the way forward, and therefore the first to tread a path
that many Irish politicians would later walk.

Davitt had a "Mandela-like nobility of the soul" and had
made the transition from being an Irish politician to being
an international politician, he added.

The weekend conference in St Patrick's College, Drumcondra,
was one of a number of events organised this year to mark
the centenary of Davitt's death. Davitt's family was
evicted from their farm in Co Mayo during the Great Famine
and emigrated to Lancashire. He spent seven years in jail
for arms smuggling but later renounced violence and founded
the Land League in 1879.

© The Irish Times


Irish Lead Actor 'Absolutely Thrilled'

Michael Dwyer, Film Correspondent

Irish actor Cillian Murphy was "absolutely thrilled" last
night after The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ken Loach's
Irish War of Independence film in which he has the leading
role, had won the Palme d'Or.

In the film he plays a young Cork doctor politicised by
events and caught up in the post-Treaty guerrilla
activities of a Flying Column in rural Cork.

Murphy, a Golden Globe nominee for Breakfast on Pluto
earlier this year, was on holiday in France with his wife
and baby son when he heard the news from Cannes.

"There's no telly in this house, so I couldn't see the
awards show, but I was overwhelmed when I heard the news.
I'm thrilled for Ken Loach and all of us who worked on the
film, and as a Corkman, for Cork, where most of the film
was made."

Rebecca O'Brien, who has produced most of Loach's recent
films, said that the award was "the greatest thrill" in all
her life working in the film industry.

"My father's family is from Dromoland in Co Clare, so it
was even more special to win the Cannes prize with a film
we made in Ireland, where we received wonderful co-
operation throughout the production."

The film is the eighth directed by Ken Loach to be selected
for the competition at Cannes. While several of his films
received other awards at Cannes in previous years - among
them Raining Stones, My Name is Joe, Land and Freedom, and
the controversial Northern Ireland thriller, Hidden Agenda
- this is his first time to receive the major prize, the
Palme d'Or.

Throughout his remarkable career, Loach, who turns 70 next
month, has been one of the most egalitarian, obstinately
uncompromisingly and socially and politically concerned
directors working in world cinema. His new film, which goes
on release in Ireland from June 23rd, is one of just five
Irish-made productions to be selected for competition at

In 1971 Susannah York was voted best female actor at the
festival for Robert Altman's Dublin-made Images. In 1984
Helen Mirren took that award for Pat O'Connor's film, Cal.
And in 1998 Wicklow resident John Boorman was named best
director at Cannes for The General, featuring Brendan
Gleeson as Dublin criminal Martin Cahill.

The runner-up prize, the Grand Prix du Jury, was given to
French director Bruno Dumont for the war film, Flandres.
Pedro Almodovar's warmly received Volver collected two
awards, best screenplay to Almodovar and best female actor,
which was shared by the six leading women in the film, led
by Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura. The best male actor
award was shared by five men in the leading roles of Rachid
Bouchareb's powerful film of Algerian and Moroccan men
fighting with the French forces during the second World War
in Indigenes (Days of Glory).

Prize for best director went to Mexican disc-jockey-turned-
director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for the globe-trotting
contemporary thriller, Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate

© The Irish Times


Minister Hails Award-Winning Film

28/05/2006 - 22:13:18

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O’Donoghue
tonight hailed the Irish civil war film which scooped the
top prize at the Cannes Film Festival as a masterpiece.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley, which stars Cork actor
Cillian Murphy, was awarded the Palme d’Or.

Mr O’Donoghue, who attend the film’s premiere at the
festival, congratulated British director Ken Loach on
winning the award.

“The film is a tremendous production that powerfully
portrays the War of Independence and the Civil War,” said
Mr O’Donoghue.

“Ken Loach handles this difficult and painful period of our
history with characteristic genius and well deserves the
Palme d’Or for this masterpiece.”

It was the first time that Loach had won the prize, after
seven previous nominations.

The film, which tells the story of two Irish brothers who
fight in the War of Independence and then the civil war,
was shot in Cork last year with an almost entirely local

Mr O’Donoghue praised the calibre of the Irish stars of the

“Their work showed dedication, artistic insight and

He added that the Palme d’Or award meant that the film’s
success nationally and internationally was now guaranteed.

“This is a terrific day for the Irish film industry and
will no doubt have a very positive impact for future

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is set between 1920 and
1922 in Cork and has been described as a stirring and
sympathetic portrait of the early days of the Irish
Republican Army. However, it has also caused controversy in
Britain for its graphic depiction of the brutality of
British forces during the War of Independence.

The Irish Film Board, which supported the film, described
Loach as a master of cinema.

“It is a triumph for Ireland that he chose a key moment of
Irish history as the inspiration for one of his finest
films,” said chief executive Simon Perry.

The front-runner for the coveted Palme d’Or prize for both
critics and audiences had been Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish
film, Volver, starring Penelope Cruz.

Babel, the new film from 21 Grams director Alejandro
Gonzalez Inarritu, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett,
was also considered a favourite.


Star Attraction: Huge Stalactite On View To Public In Clare

Gordon Deegan

Pol an Ionáin cave was opened to the public at the weekend
to allow visitors to view what is reputedly the largest
free-hanging stalactite in the world.

The cave at Doolin, Co Clare containing the 7m (23ft) long
Great Stal is now open after a 16-year struggle by a north
Clare couple, John and Helen Browne, to develop the cave as
a tourist attraction.

Ms Browne said yesterday: "It is a wonder of nature. The
cave is like an underground cathedral and the Stal
resembles this great mass of huge organ pipes coming down
from the ceiling. Anyone so far who has seen the Stal is
stunned by the sight."

The Brownes secured planning for the project only in
February of last year in the face of stiff opposition from
An Taisce and the Pol an Ionáin Action Group.

In giving the go-ahead for the scheme, An Bord Pleanála
stated that the Great Stal "is a significant part of
Ireland's cultural heritage due to its scientific and
aesthetic importance". It ruled that the proposal was in
accordance with the sustainable development of the area.

Planning was first granted for the plan in 1991. However,
the Brownes failed to advance the project after becoming
embroiled in a High Court land dispute. By the time the
dispute had been resolved, the planning permission had
lapsed, forcing the Brownes to reapply in 1999.

Seven years later, a scaled-down version of the original
plan is now in place with capacity for 55,000 visitors each

Ms Browne said: "There were lots of times when we thought
we've had enough, especially the trips to the High Court.
But we were in so deep we had to keep going. Our backs were
to the wall and we invested all our savings, sold two self-
catering homes and some land to keep the project going."

In all, Ms Browne said that €1.5 million has been spent on
the project to date. She said: "It is a very good example
of low-impact sustainable tourism and all the monitoring of
the cave so far shows that the humidity or temperature has
not been affected in any way, which we are delighted with."

Adults will have to pay €20 to view the Stal, with a €12
charge for children. Ms Browne said the admission price was
due to the limited numbers that will be allowed to visit
the site, as agreed in the planning permission.

© The Irish Times


Maps Show Emigration Patterns Before Famine

Tim O'Brien

Ordnance Survey Ireland - the State mapping service has
produced a digital archive of its early map series - much
of which predates the Great Famine.

Using almost 40,000 maps from its archive the series
depicts emigration patterns from Ireland to North America,
and are to be launched in Boston later this year.

The digital archive is expected to be an invaluable
resource for historians, genealogists and Irish people
generally in tracing their origins, while also giving a
pictorial representation of where their ancestors lived.

The first complete series was surveyed and mapped by 1842
and the last map published by 1847. More than 2,100 men
were employed for the duration of the task and 1,700 maps
were made for the series.

The series is still noted for its accuracy and the wealth
of detail which includes all the field patterns, every road
and byway, administrative and legal boundaries and the
definitive place names of the country.

The second series produced by Ordnance Survey Ireland took
place in the post-famine period 1888 to 1913 and was
completed just prior to Irish Independence. This time the
country was mapped in even more detail at a scale of 25
inches to the mile and the series contained some 30,000

The mapping took place during the great agrarian reforms of
post famine Ireland.

The series will be officially launched at a national
genealogy conference in Boston from August 30th to
September 3rd.

A pre-release of the digital series is available on the web

© The Irish Times


Eyre 'Plaza' Puts Galway Back In Business

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Forget the jokes about "Fallujah square" and ever-expanding
bills. Galway City Council was determined this weekend to
show there is no such thing as bad publicity when it hosted
a party at the weekend for the new Eyre "plaza".

Citizens, critics and visitors turned out to endorse the
effort in spite of unseasonal Atlantic weather. Heavy rain
over the past week and early Saturday had turned the lower
end, of newly sown grass, into a soft green sponge. This
had become brown and squelchy hours before Mayor Brian
Walsh (FG) delivered his welcome speech.

Even Pádraic Ó Conaire turned up for the historic occasion,
and could have done with his "asal beag dubh". The statue
of the writer has been relocated from the square to City
Hall, but his walking embodiment, actor Diarmuid de Faoite,
performed excerpts from his highly successful show on Ó
Conaire's life.

Against the backdrop of live music from the likes of
Máirtín O'Connor, the Black Magic Big Band, Pádraic Stevens
and bands from the GAF youth cafe, there was continuous
entertainment. Among the "acts" were Mr Cro and his Sho,
complete with knives, a skateboard balanced on several
spools; the Amazing Amani Acrobats; face painters, the
Galway city and county childcare playbus; a slightly
incongruous Agri-Aware "mobile farm"; and two mounted
gardaí on horseback who drew most consistent attention.

The master of ceremonies was determinedly upbeat: "We now
have the most modern city centre plaza, which is not just
on a par with but is superior to any European city," Mayor
Walsh said. It was "time to be positive" and to "declare to
the country and the world that Galway is open for business

However, his party colleague, Cllr Pádraig Conneely, was
not for turning. "I haven't changed my mind and I won't
stop calling for a full report on the mismanagement and the
spend, which is going to run to at least €11 million, he
told The Irish Times.

Galway West TDs, Minister for Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív, and Labour Party president
Michael D Higgins, were there, along with Galway county
mayor Pat Hynes, and an ecumenical blessing was performed
by Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, Rev Patrick Towers
of the Church of Ireland community and Rev Clodagh Yambasu
of the United Methodist and Presbyterian church.

Several city councillors were notably absent, perhaps due
to Pearse Stadium's postponed Connacht championship between
Galway and Sligo.

© The Irish Times



Eyre Square: What The Public Thinks

Nancy Collins

Wyoming, US: "We've just arrived here in Galway this
morning, a little over an hour ago, and it's lovely to be
able to walk down here and see all this activity. Look at
all the people here - doesn't that say something? Mind you,
it does seem a little expensive to be spending so much
money on a park."

Cillian Noone (15) Knocknacarra, Galway and student at the
"Bish" secondary school: "It is good enough, yeah, but it
is not worth the money - not worth 9.6 million. They could
have done more with the money."

Bill Hilliard Mervue, Galway and Castlerea, Co Roscommon:
"They spent an awful lot of money, bejaysus - first it was
€2 million, then it was €4 million, then it was six, and it
went on. The square was alright as it was before. I
remember when it had railings, and the Tofts used to come
here and set up entertainment for the summer. It was

"I'm going to be 88 on June 4th, I've seen a lot of
changes, and I have to say that it doesn't look too bad,
but it is an awful waste."

Pradeep Kumar Mor Kerala, India, and Doughuisce, Galway:
"I'm a staff nurse at Merlin Park Hospital. I've only been
here six months and they were just doing work when I

"It is a very nice place now, and it is lovely to be able
to come here at weekends. Did I hear it cost 10 million?

"I am a little surprised that there aren't more here today,
because in India if you had a festival like this you
wouldn't be able to move for the number of people. You have
a smaller population though, I suppose."

Joe Corcoran, Bernie Waldron and son Karol Headford Road,
Galway city: "It is worth the money, it is bigger than what
it used to be and it is far more accessible. It is great to
see a children's playground. We were here during the vigil
to save the trees over three years ago, and we really did
fear for the trees but they seem to have left more than
originally planned - and they have planted new ones. The
big question is, could the money have been better spent?"

© The Irish Times

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