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July 29, 2006

Adams Looks Forward To Sensible Unionism

News About Ireland & The Irish

PO 07/29/06
Gerry Adams Looks Forward To Sensible Unionism Emerging
BT 07/29/06 'Ridiculous' UDA Told To Disband Once And For All
GU 07/29/06 New Feud Rips Apart The UDA
SB 07/30/06 McCain Keeps Cards Close To Chest
SB 07/30/06 Poll Points Kenny In The Right Direction
SB 07/30/06 Independents Baulk At Joining Fianna Fail
TO 07/30/06 Shell Set To Reroute Pipeline
SB 07/30/06 Opin: Instead Of Celebrating, Unionists Are Objecting
SB 07/30/06 Opin: Blair’s Political Impotence Is Brutally Exposed
TO 07/30/06 Opin: If Lawful Excuse Is A Defence, Then I’m A Banana
TO 07/30/06 Books: Can We Escape Our Old Divisions?
SB 07/30/06 Government Campaign To Entice Irish Emigrants Home


Gerry Adams Looks Forward To Sensible Unionism Emerging

In an interview with the BBC today, Gerry Adams made some
interesting comments, on the wide and long term impact on 6
county politics of the IRA statement of 1 year ago. It will
take a long time, but the effect of the statement on
unionism will be profound, as it will help a sensible
unioism to emerge in the longer term.

Published: 29 July, 2006

Here is the interview in full:

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking on BBC’s Inside
Politics programme this morning said “The reality is that
the DUP have conceded the principle - in terms of sharing
power, the Good Friday Agreement and dialogue with Sinn
Fein. So it’s not a matter of if they engage, it’s a matter
of when”

Mr. Adams said:

“Last year when the IRA made their announcement, I said
that despite the historic nature of their decision to
formally end their armed campaign, such moves would not be
rewarded by those opposed to change. And that has proved to
be the case. Just as the former unionist leader James
Molyneaux described the 1994 IRA cessation as the most
destabilizing event in unionist history, today some
unionists are desperately trying to find excuses not to

“That puts a huge responsibility on the rest of us to be
focused on how we move forward. And Sinn Féin will give it
our best effort in the coming months. Our focus is to try
and get the power sharing institutions back up and running
with Ian Paisley in his rightful place as First Minister.
If that doesn’t work the process of change will continue.
The DUP have no veto other than their right to decide not
to participate. If he doesn’t want that job there are other
people to drive the process forward.

“If the DUP don’t come on board by November 24th, if the
DUP decide that they want to hang about until 2010, they
have to realize that Ireland will be a very changed place
by then. The process of change will have continued without

“A lot of this is the DUP going through the motions because
they have a bit of time. The reality is that in all of
these issues the DUP have conceded the principle - in terms
of sharing power, the Good Friday Agreement and dialogue
with Sinn Fein.

"So it's actually just a matter of, can they through this
tactical approach they are taking, garner some sort of
support from the governments for their position and can
they put off the awful day, as they would see it, as long
as possible? But the fact is they can’t have it on their
own terms – the terms are the Good Friday Agreement and
they can’t put off the inevitable because the process of
change will continue with or without them.

“I believe that the IRA decision last year has had a very
big impact within wider unionism and I think that at some
point in the future sensible unionism will assert itself
and engage.

“But my concern is not what the DUP will or won’t do My
concern is with the two governments and how they respond.
My concern is about the way Peter Hain has pandered to DUP
and how the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs
have played into that. We have been meeting with the
governments weekly and we are clear about what we expect
from them.”ENDS


'Ridiculous' UDA Told To Disband Once And For All

By Debra Douglas
29 July 2006

The UDA was last night told to "shut down instead of
changing leadership" by Alliance leader David Ford.

Making the comment after it emerged the Shoukri leadership
has been ousted in a paramilitary coup in north Belfast,
the Alliance leader said the move was "totally ridiculous".

"The UDA should be shutting up shop altogether, instead of
changing its leadership in north Belfast," he said.

"Loyalist paramilitaries still pose a massive threat to the
community in Northern Ireland. All paramilitary groups must
cease activity and disband to allow progress to be made in
breaking the current political stalemate in Northern

"Whilst moves by republicans have been too long in coming,
at least there are clear indications that the IRA is
winding down its activities. We need to see similar
commitments from loyalists.

"The only role for this new leadership is to close down the
UDA for once and for all."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has called on the UDA to end all
sectarian racist and criminal activities.

North Belfast MLA Cathy Stanton said: "What local
nationalists want to hear from the UDA is not that they
have found new leadership to carry on the drug dealing and
the criminality in north Belfast, but that their sectarian,
racist and criminal activities are to end and that they are
finally going to engage constructively with the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning.

"History unfortunately teaches us that internal unionist
paramilitary feuds usually end with attacks on Catholics in
interface areas like North Belfast. Nationalists need to be
vigilant at this time as the latest feud appears to be
coming to a head."

A statement released yesterday by the new UDA leadership
says, "a new interim brigade staff" has been appointed in
north Belfast and "approved" by the paramilitary leaders.

The statement read: "Representatives from each company of
North Belfast Brigade UDA met and formed a new delegation
approached by the UDA's Inner Council who approved the new
command structure."

The statement called on UDA members "to come forward and
disassociate themselves from the self-appointed criminal
leadership" - a reference to the Shoukris, who are
currently being held at Maghaberry, and their closest
associate Alan McClean.


New Feud Rips Apart The UDA

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday July 30, 2006
The Observer

The Ulster Defence Association - the largest paramilitary
force in Northern Ireland - is imploding this weekend as it
embarks on its third internal feud in six years.

Activists close to ousted North Belfast commanders Andre
and Ihab Shoukri were engaged last night in a dangerous
standoff with the UDA leadership following the expulsion
from the organisation last week of both brothers, along
with a key ally from North Belfast.

Extra police and troops have been drafted into the
Shoukris' strongholds, the Westland estate and the
Ballysillan area. Over the last 48 hours there have been a
series of violent incidents involving the pro-Shoukri
faction and those loyal to Jackie McDonald, the south
Belfast 'brigadier' and de facto head of the UDA in
Northern Ireland.

The latest feud started with reports from Maghaberry top
security prison that someone had tried to poison the
Shoukri brothers. Andre is on remand facing extortion
charges while his brother is also being held, accused of
UDA membership.

On the outside, there has been at least one murder attempt
on one of the Shoukris' allies; an attempt by the Shoukri
faction to march on the homes of UDA men loyal to the
leadership in the Tyndale/Ballysillan area; a pipe bomb
found on the Westland estate; and an exchange of menacing
statements between the leadership and the rebels.

The Shoukri brothers were expelled over allegations of
widespread criminality. They counter that all UDA brigades
are involved in racketeering.


McCain Keeps Cards Close To Chest

30 July 2006 By Niall O'Dowd

Senator John McCain stands to attention when the president
calls him.

Senator John McCain stands to attention when the president
calls him.

It is part of his military persona, the Vietnam War hero
who endured five and a half years of in a North Vietnamese
prison camp.

The US Commander in Chief will always be just that to the
old soldier who will turn 70 later this summer. Never mind
that George W Bush ran one of the most savage campaigns in
history against him for the Republican nomination in 2000.

‘‘Duty, honour, country,” the mantra learned at the West
Point military academy, defines McCain’s life. ‘‘It is hard
in politics to abide by its precepts, but life is nevermore
difficult for me than when I have strayed from those
precepts,” he said during an interview at his Senate

McCain said he was sorely tested when he was a prisoner in
North Vietnam after being shot down in 1967. When the North
Vietnamese learned that his father was a senior admiral in
charge of the Pacific, they offered to free him in order to
embarrass the US. McCain refused and was tortured for the
next five-and-a-half years. To this day he cannot lift his
arms shoulder high.

But he said that this was preferable to him than getting
any special treatment.

‘‘My key for survival was emerging with my honor intact,
with my faith in God, my country and my fellow prisoners
intact. They tried to deprive me of my dignity but they
failed,” he said.

As we speak the Republican senator from Arizona,
frontrunner for the 2008 presidential nomination, is
leafing through a dog-eared copy of John F Kennedy’s
seminal work, A Nation of Immigrants, written before the
1965 immigration act which changed the face of America.

After our interview, McCain is due before the Senate to
speak on the controversial immigration reform issue. He has
led the way on the issue to the fury of some in his own

He explained why it was so vital to him, pointing to a
photograph of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island late in
the 19th century. There are people from every country,
clustered on the bow of a boat looking eagerly, expectantly
at the new land they are arriving in. Their eyes are alive
with daring.

‘‘This right here is the promise of America,” said McCain.
‘‘Look at the faces, look at the hope.”

But McCain does more than quote from books on immigration.

He talks emotionally about the two-year-old Mexican girl
found dead this year on the Arizona side of the border from
heat prostration, and the 16-year-old pregnant Mexican
girl, also found dead with rosary beads wrapped around her

‘‘Doctors will tell you that heat prostration is a terrible
way to die. The drug dealers don’t die, the coyotes don’t

“It is the innocents who are brought across by the coyote
smugglers who die,” he said.

McCain is a politician who feels an issue in his bones as
well as dispassionately reading up on it.

Recently, he read in the Irish Voice newspaper how a young
woman from Co Kerry, whom he had met a few weeks earlier at
an Irish immigration rally, had lost her young brother in a
car accident in Ireland.

Because she was undocumented, she could not return home for
the funeral and was forced to listen to the funeral mass
down a phone line. He called her and empathised, a call
most politicians would never have made.

He has spoken at three rallies for the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform and on July 24, he was guest of honor at
the Irish America Magazine-Financial Dynamics annual Wall
Street 50 gathering in Manhattan. Clearly the Irish vote is
important to him.

That is not surprising considering one of his closest aides
is Angela Hession, 40, a native of Claremorris, Co Mayo who
gave up her mushroom business to move to New York after her
mother’s death from cancer in 1992.

She got a low level job with New York mayor Rudy Giuliani
but impressed him so much she ended up as deputy chief of
staff and later went on to run a successful political
consultancy firm. Now she serves as chief advance person
for McCain, organising his public appearances.

Senator McCain’s grandfather, a four-star admiral, attended
the surrender of the Japanese aboard the USS Missouri,
during the Second World War. His father, John Sidney, also
a four-star admiral, commanded three submarines during the
Second World War, and was in command of all US forces in
the Pacific during the Vietnam War. With that kind of
background, it is no surprise that John McCain became a war
hero himself.

He still has trenchant views on the war that defined him in
Vietnam. Most historians gauge it a failed venture that
split Americans for a generation.

McCain does not agree.

‘‘It was a noble cause,” said McCain. ‘‘What happened after
North Vietnam prevailed clearly validated us. They executed
thousands, sent tens of thousands to re-education camps and
brutally treated people. They have made progress now but
there is still no freedom of expression.

‘‘I have healed the wounds with them, worked with the
Vietnamese on issues, but I still said, much to their
dismay, not too long ago, that the wrong side won.”

But what if America had to continue to occupy Vietnam in
order to ‘‘win’’ that war?

‘‘Well, we pretty much left because of public opinion,
which was why the North Vietnamese succeeded. If we had
stayed it would probably be like South Korea. Nobody minds,
as we are not in combat there - and look how well they have
done,” he said.

On Lebanon and Hezbollah he takes an uncompromising pro-
Israeli stance: ‘‘You have probably seen our European
friends say: ‘Well, the Israelis have got to stop.’

‘‘What would we do if somebody came across our borders and
killed our soldiers and captured our soldiers? Do you think
we would be exercising total restraint?”

How does he read the situation in Iraq with the headlines
of doom and gloom?

‘‘Well, of course I’m worried, because the consequences of
failure are so profound,” he said. ‘‘We are a democratic
country, we respond to the will of the people and I
understand the frustration [of the people].

‘‘I do know that most Americans, although they want us out,
do not support an immediate withdrawal. Part of it has been
our own fault. All those optimistic statements, ‘mission
accomplished’, ‘last throes’, ‘a few dead enders’, have
raised expectations and there has been understandable

‘‘One of our biggest failures was allowing the looting
after the war. We never had enough troops to stabilise the

“But there are huge stakes involved and the consequences of
failure are huge, not just in Iraq but in the entire

But don’t the optimistic statements coming from leaders
today sound like what the generals and politicians used to
say about Vietnam?

‘‘In Iraq we now have a democratically elected government -
in Vietnam it was revolving generals - so I think we have a
chance for functioning democracy and government,” he said.

‘‘Also, the support for the insurgents from Iran and Syria
is nothing like the massive aid extended to the North
Vietnamese by China and Russia. So this has to be fought as
a classic counter-insurgency.”

Despite his pro-Iraq war views McCain is by far the most
popular Republican politician among swing Democrats and
independents - something that surprises many observers. It
looks certain that McCain will run, but he remains coy on
the issue, as do his senior staff.

If McCain does run, he said he may well cite the Irish
economic boom as an example of how successful economies
come about.

‘‘Ireland has been an incredible success, it is a great
argument for a strong educational system, for low taxes,
for forward thinking.”

On his trips to Ireland, he said he had increasingly felt
at home. His favourite writers are Roddy Doyle, the
chronicler of Dublin working-class life, whose books he can
quote from, and short story writer and novelist William

An aide whispers it is time to go to the Senate floor to

John McCain walks out of his office past the bust of Teddy
Roosevelt, the last great maverick in American politics who
almost made it to the White House a third time as a third
party candidate.

Is John McCain the strongest candidate of our generation?

One thing for is certain, the road to the White House runs
past his door. Whether he decides to take it will likely
determine who sits in the Oval Office in January 2009.

Niall O’Dowd is editor and publisher of The Irish Voice in
New York.


Poll Points Kenny In The Right Direction

30 July 2006 By Pat Leahy

A stagnant government and an opposition still with a huge
task ahead of it is the picture drawn by today’s Red C
tracking poll, the final set of monthly numbers before the
traditional August break.

A stagnant government and an opposition still with a huge
task ahead of it is the picture drawn by today’s Red C
tracking poll, the final set of monthly numbers before the
traditional August break.

The movements since our last tracking poll a month ago are
marginal, confirming already identified existing trends
rather than establishing new dynamics. Fianna Fail and Fine
Gael gain one point since last month, while Labour and the
Green Party are unchanged.

There is bad news for the Progressive Democrats, who drop
one point to 2 per cent - almost off the polling radar

Sinn Fein make their second one-point gain in succession to
rise to 10 per cent, while independents drop by two points
to 7 per cent.

Take a blue bow

The best news from today’s poll is for Fine Gael leader
Enda Kenny. His party has continued its slow but consistent
upward movement since the beginning of the year, finishing
the summer term strongly on 27 per cent.

This is the sort of territory that the party - with perhaps
over-egged optimism - insists will bring it into the mid-
50s in Dail seats, adding 20-plus seats to its present
total of 32.

As part justification for this projection, the party cites
the result of the 1997 general election, in which it
secured 54 seats with less than 28 per cent of the vote.

However, the electorate - and the electoral arithmetic -
might work differently ten years on, and Fine Gael might
have to work harder for its seats than it thinks.

Academic studies have shown the benefits of incumbency in
elections - it’s easier to win a seat if you’re already in
it - and Fine Gael has a great deal of ground to make up in
terms of seats.

Nonetheless, Fine Gael’s overall trend since the first
tracking poll in January has been definitely upward, and
the party leadership is entitled to take both encouragement
from and credit for that movement.

The question for Kenny is: can he keep this support and
build on it in the autumn?

The signs are better than they were. For the first time
since the series began, Fine Gael’s three-month figure
shown in the graph on the opposite page matches its result
this month; in other words, the party has put a few good
results together. Its previous tendency to see-saw from
poll to poll - two good results, one bad result was the
pattern - has been, for the moment at least, avoided.

The party has put three good results back to back in the
last three months. Fine Gael also continues to run strongly
among those voters who say they are certain to vote.

If Kenny can keep this trend moving forward into the
autumn, he will be half way towards generating what
American political strategists sometimes define as the most
valuable advantage of all: ‘‘the Big Mo’’ - momentum.

This will mean that voters are actually beginning to
believe that he can be and will be taoiseach in sufficient
numbers to make it happen. That hasn’t happened yet, but
it’s looking more like it might.

Glass half empty

For the Taoiseach and Fianna Fail, the poll brings very
limited good news in that the party has recovered one point
in the last month, its first upward movement since April’s
tracking poll. However, today’s numbers also offer party
chiefs more evidence that the party is rooted firmly in the

The three-month average figures have not shifted from 35
per cent for Fianna Fail since the beginning of the year -
nearly seven points adrift of its 2002 result.

After the political tumult of May and June - the statutory
rape controversy and Fianna Fail backbench unrest - recent
weeks have been relatively uneventful for the government.

The Dail went into recess, depriving the opposition of a
platform and its attendant media opportunities.

The Taoiseach and some of his more able ministers such as
Brian Cowen and Micheal Martin have been getting out and
about; fine weather and holidays have hardly worsened the
public mood. These are the times from which incumbent
governments are supposed to benefit, yet the party shows
just a marginal uplift.

If Fianna Fail doesn’t show an improvement after the
summer, the climb ahead is going to start looking very
steep indeed.

The fact is that unless there is a dramatic change in the
patterns of political support identified in polls in this
newspaper and others in recent years, then Fianna Fail is
likely lose a lot of seats in the next general election.

Such a dramatic change may be occasioned by the budget, by
the influx of SSIA money or by the failure of the
opposition, when push really comes to shove, to look like a

But with each passing poll, the time is getting shorter and
shorter for Bertie Ahern to perform the Houdini act.

For the Taoiseach’s coalition partners, today’s news is
glum indeed. At 2 per cent, the PDs are barely registering
on the public’s radar at all, and the trend since April has
been relentlessly down.

It’s important to note that for small parties, the real
challenge is to run strongly in individual constituencies
where their candidates are competitive, but with a
declining national profile this becomes more difficult.

And at 2 per cent, the party’s national profile is closer
to the sort of territory normally occupied by the fringe
parties of the right and left than a party with two cabinet
ministers that has been in government for most of its
existence. You expect to find Justin Barrett’s crowd at 2
per cent, but not Liz O’Donnell’s.

The decline measured in the past month, of course, comes in
the wake of the civil war in the party between the Mary
Harney wing and the smaller rump around Michael McDowell.

Clearly, the impact of the falling out extends beyond just
the political classes. Going on the numbers of voters at
the last election, 2 per cent nationally would be around
37,000 votes, and there’s no way the PDs could avoid big
seat losses if that occurs next year.

Harney, McDowell, O’Donnell and the rest might be well
advised to figure out some way over the summer to hang
together, at least temporarily.

Or they will assuredly all hang separately.

Still labouring

Pat Rabbitte maintains his steady, but most definitely not
spectacular, run in the polls.

The party is at 12 per cent, just one up from its 2002
result. Its three-month figure is at 13 per cent.

This is solid, but it means that Labour needs to improve if
it is to deliver serious seat gains. Rabbitte likes to
advertise Labour as the natural home for disaffected Fianna
Fail voters, but there is little sign that the many
disaffected Fianna Fail voters agree with him: in fact, the
poll’s internal figures suggest that they’re three times
more likely to support Fine Gael.

There’s also a growing concern in some elements of the
party that if Labour can’t make hay when the government is
relatively unpopular - and Fianna Fail’s vote is in the
toilet - then what chance does it have of doing well if and
when Fianna Fail recovers?

It has previously been remarked that if the rainbow
coalition government is to become a reality, then Fine Gael
is going to have to do the heavy lifting in terms of seat
gains, and there’s nothing in this month’s figures to
contradict that assertion.

The Green Party has another strong poll, confirming its 7
per cent level of support.

The party’s support is particularly strong in Dublin.

The Greens won six seats with 4 per cent of the vote in
2002, and really should be looking to make gains with its
increased support next year.

The problem for the party is that its political management
has been poor, and there appear to be few real chances of
seat gains, although strong local campaigns in places like
Galway West could yet change that.

Sinn Fein sees its support rise to 10 per cent, its second
consecutive gain. It’s a good result for the party, which
most observers expect to pick up seats next year, and which
is likely to benefit from much media exposure in the autumn
as negotiations in the North enter a crucial phase.

The immediate challenge for Sinn Fe¤ in is to extend its
appeal beyond its core bases: the hard republican vote and
the urban working class in disadvantaged areas.

If the party can simultaneously broach the 10 per cent
barrier and become less transfer-repellent to the broad
middle ground of Irish people, its prospects for growth are

It has yet, however, to demonstrate hard evidence that it
can extend its appeal in any enduring way.

Prospects for government

Were there to be an election tomorrow, it is virtually
certain that Fianna Fail and the PDs would not be returned
to government, not even with the support of the Fianna Fail
‘gene pool’ independents.

What is much less certain is who would replace the present
coalition. Fine Gael and Labour would be most unlikely to
muster the 83 seats needed for a Dail majority; even with
the addition of the Green TDs, the sums could be pretty

However, there are several independents in the present
Dail, and many of them - or others like them - will be
returned next time round. Their support is likely to be
available - at a price - if the rainbow needs a few more
votes to get to the crock of gold.

Contrast the situation with the very start of the year,
when the alternative government looked to be well off the
pace and the best bet for the next government, the maths
said, was Fianna Fail-Labour. Now that’s different. The
story of the last seven months has been the continued
weakness of the government and the gradual strengthening of
the alternative.

It has been pointed out in this series before that one of
the most important things to remember about the 2007
election is that it’s going to take place in 2007.

In other words, the tracking polls give us reliable read of
the landscape as it now is - not a prophecy of where it
will be in a year’s time.

But the seven months of regular polls have also given us a
moving picture of how that landscape responds to events in
politics, and has allowed us to define the tasks facing
political leaders in the next election.

Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that Ahern has a
mountain to climb. He must entice back those voters who
have deserted his party (7 to 8 per cent of the electorate)
through a mixture of scaring them about the opposition and
taking credit for the country’s economic success.

Kenny must convince the same swing voters that he can be
taoiseach, that a change would be good for the country.

He must give them reasons to believe this.

In this crucial contest for the country’s leadership, the
Fine Gael leader has had the best of the last six months.


Independents Baulk At Joining Fianna Fail

30 July 2006 By Niamh Connolly

Independent TDs from the Fianna Fail ‘gene pool’ have vowed
to reject any advances from Fianna Fail in the wake of
Donegal TD Niall Blaney’s decision to join the party ahead
of the general election.

Independent TDs from the Fianna Fail ‘gene pool’ have vowed
to reject any advances from Fianna Fail in the wake of
Donegal TD Niall Blaney’s decision to join the party ahead
of the general election.

Blaney last week agreed to heal a 35-year split with the
party over the expulsion of his uncle Neil T Blaney in 1971
following the arms trial controversy.

However, his colleagues on the independent benches,
including James Breen, Paddy McHugh, Jackie Healy Rae and
Jerry Cowley, were all adamant they would resist any
similar approach from the party.

Clare TD James Breen said that ‘‘feelers’’ were put out 12
months ago from different members of the Oireachtas to
rejoin the party but he declined.

‘‘I said no and I’m still staying no,” he said.

Breen, a former Fianna Fail councillor who sought the
party’s nomination but was not selected, topped the poll in
the 2002 general election.

He said he believed he was in a very strong position after
the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signalled last week that he may
depend on the support of Independents to form the next

‘‘Having said that I’m prepared to sit down and speak with
any Taoiseach from whatever party, whether Bertie Ahern,
Enda Kenny or Pat Rabbitte, in the interests of democracy,
provided they give a tangible commitment to projects in Co
Clare,” he said.

The Dail deputies confirmed that they were preparing
shopping lists of demands in exchange for supporting Fianna
Fail after the next election.

Breen’s list included an outreach of a third level
institution in Ennis, the upgrade of Ennis General
Hospital, including a 24-hour accident and emergency
department; a dedicated 24-hour ambulance service for east
and west Clare; water and sewerage schemes; improved
infrastructure to Shannon Airport and a revision of the
plan to withdraw the Shannon Stopover.

Independent TD for Galway East Paddy McHugh said he was
last approached by Fianna Fail over a year ago about
rejoining the party.

‘‘In relation to the next general election, I’m definitely
contesting as an independent.

“There isn’t any scenario that I can imagine where I would
join,” he said, citing his reason as ‘‘the neglect of East
Galway over a long number of years.”

McHugh claimed that as an independent he was influential in
the government’s concessions to develop a Western Rail
Corridor, and hospital services in Tuam.

Mayo TD Jerry Cowley, who said he would remain an
Independent, said he was behind a recent initiative to
bring likeminded independents together to prepare ‘‘a
laundry list’’ of demands for the general election.

Kerry South TD Jackie Healy Rae said he had ‘‘no intention
in the wide earthly world to do what Niall Blaney did’’.


Shell Set To Reroute Pipeline

Stephen O’Brien

SHELL is to announce within two weeks that it is prepared
to reroute the Corrib gas pipeline in Mayo, in an attempt
to end the local protests that have stymied the €900m

The state-owned Bord Gais is expected to become involved in
the selection of a new route when it joins forces with
Shell in the project.

The rerouting is likely to involve moving the pipeline
about 200 metres from local homes. The nearest house to the
current route across the Rossport peninsula is 70 metres

Moving the pipeline will not require planning permission,
but the change will need ministerial consent, which could
delay construction by 12 to 18 months.

Peter Cassells, who mediated between the multinational and
locals, last week reported to Noel Dempsey, the natural
resources minister, that Shell should “modify the route of
the pipeline in the vicinity of Rossport to address
community concerns”.

Shell will issue a detailed response to Cassells in the
next two weeks. In addition to expressing its willingness
to move the pipeline, there is a growing expectation that
the lead partner in the Corrib consortium — which includes
Statoil and Marathon — will accept all of Cassells’
recommendations in a bid to end the stand-off .

One source close to the process said: “Shell doesn’t have
too many options here. It’s hard to see how they can
cherry-pick the Cassells report if they want to make the
breakthrough with majority local support. It’s pretty much
all or nothing.”

A Shell source indicated a readiness on the part of the
exploration firm to improve the existing offer of “benefits
to the community”, as recommended by Cassells. Shell has
already agreed to make good on the commitment of Enterprise
Oil, the company that found the Corrib gas and then sold on
the project, to create a €1.3m community fund when gas
begins to flow from Erris.

But the company is now prepared to start paying out as soon
as construction begins on the pipeline and the processing
facility at Bellanaboy, east of Rossport, rather than
waiting for construction to be complete and gas to flow.

The fund is also likely to be worth considerably in excess
of €1.3m, the Shell source said, and could be used for a
seed fund to create employment and to foster
entrepreneurial activity in Erris. A €450,000 payment to
the local community based on €1 per cubic meter of peat
moved from the Bellanaboy site could also be increased

Bord Gais said yesterday: “We note with interest the
Cassells report published last week. Bord Gais is keen to
see Corrib gas brought ashore as it is important for the
diversity and security of gas supplies.

“If approached by the Corrib partners we will work with all
concerned parties to see how we can assist in the delivery
of the project.”

When the mediation process began last year, Shell said all
pipeline routes would be considered and a spokesman said
yesterday, “that remains the case”.

Brendan Philbin, one of the five protesters jailed last
year for defiance of court injunctions allowing the
pipeline to proceed, said he had not fully read the
Cassells report or formed a response.

Mark Garavan, a Shell to Sea spokesman, said moving the
pipeline a couple of hundred metres from houses was not a
solution. He said the core problem was the location of the
gas-processing facility. Nor did he believe the geology of
the peninsula would allow such a route, as the existing
course was “pretty much equidistant between the houses and
the shoreline”.


Opin: Instead Of Celebrating Victory, Unionists Are Objecting Again

30 July 2006 By Tom McGurk

I suppose it was about as good as it gets. Stormont Castle
was the setting.

I suppose it was about as good as it gets. Stormont Castle
was the setting. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and
Justice Minister Michael McDowell were out on the lawn
addressing the press. McDowell and Hain were quite
emphatic: the IRA had clearly abandoned paramilitarism and
crime. Coming as it did in the week of the first
anniversary of the IRA ordering an end to its armed
campaign, surely the announcement signalled that the
political route to devolution was finally clear of

But nothing in the North ever goes to plan: by the teatime
news on the television, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds was
dismissing it all. The next day the Belfast Newsletter, a
traditionally Unionist newspaper, was talking about
‘‘Hain’s bullying’’.

For those who have plotted and planned to remove unionism’s
stated objections to power-sharing, the announcement
ushered in a time of confusion. The question that continues
to be asked - as it has been for many years - is why does
unionism have to continually move the goalposts?

By any standards, such a statement coming from Michael
McDowell should have been seen as significant. After all,
he had developed something of an appreciation society among
unionists for his robust attacks on the IRA and
republicanism in general.

He had become so popular that Love Ulster, who wanted to
march through Dublin to draw attention to IRA killings in
the North, wanted him to address their gathering.

Now, with Ian Paisley still grandstanding - his performance
on The Twelfth was pure panto - it is almost impossible to
know where the DUP stands.

Unfortunately, the DUP is not a normal political party. At
its core is a sort of secret society, an inner circle
gathered around Paisley. It is a complex mixture of the
religious right and those, simply with political ambition,
who have fled the UUP.

Paisley dominates everything and in truth it will probably
only be possible for the DUP to develop politically post-

The party’s strategy towards devolution is merely an issue
for its succession stakes.

Among the pretenders to Paisley’s throne are Peter
Robinson, Paisley’s longtime deputy and, of course, Ian
Paisley Jr.

Whether the Paisley family regards the party as a private
fiefdom in relation to Ian Jr’s ambitions will be
interesting indeed.

Beyond all this, there is the ever-present problem of the
DUP’s endemic sectarism.

Almost forty years ago, the party began as the Protestant
Unionist Party, deliberately positioning itself as the
party of no-change, old-fashioned unionism.

It has only been in later years that the DUP began to
expand beyond its original sectarian base to become a type
of hold-all that was a refuge for those fleeing from the
increasingly fraying UUP under David Trimble.

It is a party that possibly doesn’t have a single Catholic
member and, while it dresses up its image in public, deep
down its grassroots know exactly where it stands on the old
poisoned Northern ditch.

For Republicans, who have managed to channel all their
ambitions into constructing a new political ethic in the
North, the current scenario has become deeply depressing.

While the talks were under way - eventually giving way to
determined attempts by both Dublin and London to erect new
political structures - the Adams/McGuinness strategy seemed
to be delivering dividends.

But the peace process has dragged on, seemingly forever,
and each demand by unionism has been met without any
appreciable political gains.

The thrill and novelty of the White House and Downing
Street are fading and the home straight has never looked

Right now, the debate in Sinn Fein is whether devolution is
actually worth all the pain and perseverance. There’s a
growing faction who feel that making Paisley first minister
has become increasingly unattractive.

Few feel this can ever be achieved and many others believe
that, even if Paisley ever gets into that position, he will
be unable to resist the temptation to take Sinn Fein out at
the first opportunity.

The likely political reality staring us all in the face is
that Paisley’s unionism is incapable of doing any deal that
would cement nationalists into any form of equal civic and
political relationship.

In Northern terms, such a deal would be historic, in direct
contradiction to the internal logic of partition, and the
brutal truth is that, from its inception, Paisleyism has
been dedicated to stopping that eventuality ever happening.

Dublin and London have had other political dreams for the
North. Indeed, we all have. But no matter how many ways we
turned and twisted its Rubik’s cube and no matter how many
helpful hands came from other places to assist, the
suspicion that it is a society too politically
dysfunctional to be reinvented repeatedly floats to the

Dublin and London look set to call time in November, the
old attitudes circle and circle without seemingly going
anywhere and in the North; the wider public have grown
weary of their politicians.

Writing this week the Taoiseach said that much has been
achieved, the whole context had been changed by the ending
of violence and all politicians have a responsibility to
show leadership. We shall see, but who could be hopeful?


Opin: Blair’s Political Impotence Is Brutally Exposed

30 July 2006 By Robert Fox

So Tony Blair has gone to Washington, yet again, and to San
Francisco, in the cause of good governance, order and peace
in the world.

So Tony Blair has gone to Washington, yet again, and to San
Francisco, in the cause of good governance, order and peace
in the world.

Some commentators back in Britain had hoped he had already
said his farewells to George W Bush and was ready to quit
the political scene this autumn or next spring at the
latest. But he seems to be keen to clock up more farewell
performances than the late, great Sarah Bernhardt.

Blair was set to urge, on his Texan chum, the need to get
the gang, Israel included, to holster the six guns and
smoke the pipe of peace. The two chums speak on the
telephone at least five times a week. Ever keen to don the
rosy spectacles, the loyal lobby correspondents of
Westminster believe that Blair’s is still a decisive voice
in world affairs, and that he can affect the path of war
and peace in the Middle East.

Sadly for Blair, the facts on the ground at home and abroad
tell a different story.

The strange row over the shipment to Israel of smart bombs
via Prestwick in Scotland makes an interesting vignette -
and points to storms ahead with the Labour Party and the

Rather against the run of play, the new foreign secretary
Margaret Beckett has suggested that there is something
untoward in slipping a few dozen bunker-buster bombs across
British soil on their way to the Israelis.

An ingenue in foreign affairs Beckett may be, but when it
comes to tuning the loyalties of Labour new and old, there
are few to match her - and she’s at least as experienced at
it as her boss, Blair.

She has recognised that the Labour Party faithful, and
Brits as whole, do not like looking at images of the
results of Israel’s unleashing of huge amounts of kinetic
warfare all over the Lebanon.

The other fact she seems to grasp is how overblown are the
claims of the Blair court to have real influence in the
court of King Win Washington.

Blair is only persuasive when the American administration
permits, and when their own collective mind is not made up
already. On Israel and the Middle East this does not appear
to be the case.

The Bush team is pitching for Israel, and the issue for
them is just how far to go. The ‘ultra’ neo-cons say that
now is the time to go all the way, and bomb Tehran and
Damascus, the sponsors of Hezbollah, while the opportunity

Tehran has to be fixed anyway as chief bloody nuisance in
the region and before they can get their nuclear bomb
making up and running. This is the advice from neo-con
stalwarts like Bill Kristol in Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly
Standard, and Charles Krauthammer.

Ironically, it appears that the bunker-busting bombs being
rushed to Israel through Scotland were ordered a year ago -
possibly for use in a pre-emptive strike by the Israeli air
force against Iran.

Now they are needed urgently to blast the underground
arsenals and shelters of Hezbollah.

The minds of the hawks in Washington, London and the world
over should be concentrated on the evident difficulties
that Israel is now facing from the strategic to the
tactical level.

The Olmert government and its chief of staff, Lieutenant
General Dan Halutz, have set out on a difficult and
dangerous strategy, and one which has no chance of reaching
what the military call a culminating point - a decisive
conclusion - in the short term.

They are fighting what the maverick British general Rupert
Smith calls ‘‘war among the people’’ in his masterly study
of contemporary conflict, The Utility of Force.

Smith believes that the era of industrial warfare is gone,
when mighty armoured forces and air forces clash and
governments prevail, sue for peace or surrender.

Now warfare is with fighters who mingle among civilian
communities and part of them.

Industrial forces like those of the US, Israel and Britain,
have finite resources in armour, aircraft and communication
hardware, plus far from inexhaustible supplies of humans.

Guerrilla groups attached to movements and communities and
not states, like Hezbollah, can move up and down the scale
from confrontation to conflict - and they are not
restricted by time.

Smith believes the campaign in Lebanon is an example of
what he means by war among the people. He believes Israel,
and by proxy, the United States, has no focused strategic
aim, and the conflict is set to endure.

So what is the measure of the destruction of Hezbollah, a
movement and idea as much as a band of extremely ruthless
guerrilla fighters? Does the aim mean that any supporter,
backer, affiliate or sympathiser with Hezbollah, whether in
Lebanon, Palestine, Syria or Iran should be torn out and
burnt like bindweed?

To start, like the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Israel relied on airpower from the outset. The effect of
airpower in wars among the people is limited, as the
experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Lebanon seems
to prove.

Israel has difficulty with its infantry, which has been
overstretched on policing the Palestinian territories and

Almost no Israeli soldier who has had any experience of
fighting in Lebanon wants to go there again. The most
trenchant criticism of the conduct of the war so far has
come from inside Israel, and not from outside, as the
columns of respected analysts such as Ze’ev Schiff and Yoel
Marcus in the daily Haaretz newspaper prove day by day.

The most useful purpose of the brief encounter of Blair and
Bush in Washington would be to underline the element of
unreality in the approaches of both men to the crisis so

Blair is impotent politically and militarily. He can talk
about UN, EU and Nato peace forces, but he doesn’t have a
dog in the fight. Britain’s military cupboard is bare
thanks to the worsening and thankless task being undertaken
by its soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If there is to be any prospect of a viable international
peace force getting down to sorting out the Israel-Lebanon
border region in a matter of weeks rather than months, only
one country has the ability to organise, lead and deliver

France has the right headquarters and command arrangements
and available forces to lead such an operation, whether
under EU or UN auspices.

This is the awkward fact about Blair’s latest stopover in
Washington. It should not be the British prime minister
that Bush is receiving, but Jacques Chirac.

Better still, Bush or Rice might make the trip to Paris.

At least that would be a start.

Robert Fox is a journalist, author and broadcaster. He has
worked for the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. He is defence
correspondent for the Evening Standard in London.


Opin: Matt Cooper: If ‘Lawful Excuse’ Is A Legitimate Defence, Then I’m A Banana

The democratic credentials of the Irish public were on
display last week when a jury in the Central Criminal Court
voted to acquit five protesters who vandalised an American
plane at Shannon in February 2003. What made the outcome so
surprising is that this looked like an open-and-shut case.

The five had been engaged in an act of violence, they were
arrested at the scene and they confessed to their crime.
Then their lawyers produced an ace. They introduced a
defence of “lawful excuse”, and the jury bought it.

The plane was attacked, the protesters argued, in order to
prevent it playing any part in the death and destruction of
individuals and property in Iraq. Somehow this defence
worked and the five walked.

Precedence plays an important part in Irish law and this
case has set down a new and potentially important one.
Having succeeded in such spectacular fashion, we can expect
criminal defence lawyers to consider the merits of “lawful
excuse” much more frequently from now on.

“Yes Judge, I admit my client did it, but he had an
excellent reason for doing what he did, so it wasn’t really
criminal at all.”

Based on last week’s decision, any defendant charged with a
violent act who can argue successfully that the crime was
committed to achieve a greater good can feel confident
their case will get a decent hearing. It’s a charter for
the self-righteous.

The five Catholic anti-war activists belong to a group
calling itself the Pitstop Ploughshares. “We attempt to
enflesh the prophesy of Isaiah II and Micah IV ‘to beat
swords into ploughshares’,” they explain on their website.
They claim the attack in Shannon was designed to take place
around the feast of St Brigid in order to disarm and
disable the Americans’ “war machine”.

“We hope to begin to take up the runway and to ground
military aircraft,” it said. “We hope to be joined in this
act of disarmament by those who encounter us. Citizens,
police and soldiers wielding hammers brought down the
Berlin wall; we hope all will pitch in to take up this
runway and ground planes servicing the war machine.”

The five knew they were breaking the law when they attacked
the aircraft, used to transport troops prior to the
invasion of Iraq. Their actions were premeditated and could
not be described as self-defence.

Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Damien Moran (who was studying
to be a priest at the time), Ciaron O’Reilly and Karen
Fallon took advantage of slack security — just one garda —
to attack the plane with lump hammers and other weapons.

How they distracted the lone garda on duty has not been
explained in court reports, but it was noted that the
protest gang “comforted” him when he appeared “distressed”
by their presence.

The gang did enough damage to ground the aircraft for
months. The bill for repairs — and it is not clear who
picked up the tab — was reported to be $2.5m (€1.96m).

The vandals did not leg it as soon as they had finished,
either. Instead, they erected a “shrine” with photos of
dying Iraqi children — victims of the sanctions regime that
failed to remove Saddam Hussein — along with copies of the
Bible and, in a cute, ecumenical touch, the Koran. Then
they prayed as they awaited their arrest, suggesting that
“martyrdom” might not have been too far from the top of
their objectives.

Charges for committing criminal damage were inevitable,
imprisonment possible. But the five claimed that by
throwing a spanner into the cog of the American war machine
they honestly and reasonably believed their destructive
actions would protect the lives and property of Iraqis.

The protest was praised by idealists and the naive, but it
was futile, as likely to interrupt the Americans’ war
effort as a fly hitting a windshield would force a driver
to hit the brakes.

The war started anyway, with the disastrous consequences
many predicted. The Irish government wasn’t persuaded to
change its position and continued to allow the use of
Shannon airport as a petrol station by the Americans.

Since the actions of the Pitstop Ploughshares were never
going to influence the plans for war, it is hard to see
how, other than through divine intervention, their defence
could succeed in court. But they were lucky.

The first trial collapsed when Judge Frank O’Donnell
admitted that comments he had made could be construed as
exhibiting bias. A second trial collapsed when it emerged
that Judge Donagh McDonagh had attended both inaugurations
of George W Bush as American president. Both judges, in
addition to Judge Joe Matthews in pre-trial rulings, had
refused to allow the argument of “lawful excuse” to be

God certainly loves a trier. After a lengthy debate in the
absence of the jury, a third judge assigned to the case,
Miriam Reynolds, allowed the defence to be aired.

The jury, some of whom may have witnessed the colourful
anti-Guantanamo Bay demonstrations staged each day outside
the Four Courts, seemed to be swayed by the defendants’
convictions and principles, if not the effectiveness of
their actions.

Acquitted, the five are now heroes to some.

To others, including people like myself who did not support
the American invasion and occupation, attacking
transportation planes amounts to little more than self-
indulgent posturing.

Ironically the five anti-war protesters have much in common
with George W Bush and the neocons who decided on the
invasion of Iraq, the action against which they were
protesting. Each believes they have God on their side, that
they are acting for the overall good and therefore they are
entitled to engage in pre-emptive strikes against those
with whom they disagree. That makes the Pitstop
Ploughshares as arrogant as the neocons.

Now a Sinn Fein councillor has started a campaign to have
the five made freemen of Dublin, the highest honour the
civic authorities can bestow. The anti-war movement —
dominated by figures who make little or no impact in the
polls — is spinning this result, championing it is an
endorsement of their left-wing politics and knee-jerk anti-

Few have seen fit to remark on how fairly the Irish court
system has treated the five, including an Australian and a
Scot, or how fortunate they were to benefit from free legal
aid paid for by Irish taxpayers.

The Pitstop Ploughshares failed in their primary objective
and that was always going to be the case. It is almost
inconceivable that the government will cease facilitating
American troop movements at Shannon. Our economic ties with
America are so important, it would take something as
serious as evidence that weapons were being transported to
Israel via Shannon to provoke any kind of official censure.

The value of these airline contracts is of paramount
importance in Clare and Limerick. There is nothing to be
gained politically (but much to lose) by interfering with
the revenues and jobs that depend on this business. Those
outside the Shannon area will have an opportunity to make
their views known through the ballot box next year.

That is the correct and acceptable way of making your views
known, not by engaging in the type of vandalism that the
Pitstop Ploughshares managed to have legitimised by the

Thanks to that decision, all sorts of interesting scenarios
now arise that can be argued under the defence of “lawful
excuse”. You arrive home by taxi in the middle of the night
having consumed a large quantity of alcohol. Knocking over
milk bottles and standing on the cat, you create such a
racket you wake your bad-tempered neighbour.

When you arise with a throbbing head next morning, you
discover your tyres have been punctured and your windscreen
damaged. A neighbour emerges, admits he caused the damage
and tells you you’re going nowhere in that car.

His defence? You arrived home so late that it is likely
alcohol is still in your system. If you drive the car you
will be committing a criminal offence. You will also be a
danger to other road users, so the damage designed to
prevent you harming others is justified. Your neighbour has
a “lawful excuse”.

Well, it’s about as far-fetched as the one about the anti-
war protesters who thought wielding a lump hammer in
Shannon would prevent a war in Iraq.


Books: Can We Escape Our Old Divisions?

No, but Mick Heaney welcomes Henry Patterson’s fresh
attempt to unite the republic and north in one history

When it comes to writing modern Irish history, achieving a
harmonious unity between the different traditions has
proved as elusive as accomplishing the real thing. Just as
the border has physically divided Ireland for more than 80
years, so it has defined historical perspectives in that

Even the best chronicles ultimately place narrative
emphasis on either the north or south: JJ Lee’s magisterial
history, Ireland: Politics and Society 1912-1985, was
skewed towards the social and economic dynamics of the
republic, while Jonathan Bardon’s A History of Ulster took
the province’s exceptionalism as its starting point.

Henry Patterson’s new book, Ireland Since 1939: The
Persistence of Conflict, seems a welcome break from this
mould. But far from constructing an overarching all-Ireland
narrative, Patterson, professor of politics at the
University of Ulster, attempts to overcome the north-south
divide largely by examining the island’s two jurisdictions
separately, teasing out their interdependency rather than
clumsily melding the two.

While Patterson provides fresh views, his approach does not
mark a paradigm shift away from the old debates of
revisionist versus traditionalist, nationalist versus
unionist. Indeed, the parity of esteem with which he treats
north and south turns the border — and its endurance — into
the book’s central thematic plank.

Such contradictions are unsurprising.

Patterson paints his own background as somewhat anomalous,
growing up before the Troubles in a Protestant family whose
low-key unionism took second place to trade unionism, with
its attendant cross- community values (in theory, at
least). For Patterson, economic and labour history form a
vital but often overlooked part of the Irish national

Rather than chronicle the republic’s transformation from a
stagnant rural economy into a prosperous western nation, in
the style of Diarmaid Ferriter, Patterson is more focused,
making socioeconomic issues central to north-south
relations. While some conclusions are hardly new (the old
truism about northern Catholics being more attracted to a
wealthy UK than a poor republic gets an airing), there are
interesting assertions, not least about the contrasting
responses of different leaders to challenging economic

Tellingly, the most compelling and vivid sections deal with
the transitional period from the early 1960s to the mid-
1980s. If the book has a hero, it is Sean Lemass, the
Fianna Fail taoiseach credited with bringing the republic
into the modern world from 1959 to 1966. Patterson plays
down the myth of Lemass as visionary economic miracle
worker, however.

Instead, he is attracted by the achievement of Lemass, the
former 1916 volunteer, in co-opting both business and
labour elements into Fianna Fail. Lemass’s attempts to
steer the party away from its more atavistic national
aspirations towards a more pragmatic approach to the
national question are covered confidently: the conciliatory
gestures that led to his groundbreaking 1965 visit to
Northern Irish premier Terence O’Neill are contrasted with
the taoiseach’s dismissive attitude to the moribund
northern Nationalist party.

In opting to pursue prosperity for the republic rather than
chase unattainable unity, Lemass is presented not so much
as a brave iconoclast as someone tapped into the social
realities. But, for Patterson, the Lemass era is also a
missed opportunity: the leader’s pragmatism “caused him to
underestimate the power of more primordial voices in both
nationalism and unionism”, ominously gathering on the

Lemass’s confident handling of his party’s recidivist
elements does compare favourably with O’Neill’s difficulty
when faced by the hardline unionist backlash to the
taoiseach’s visit and the growing clamour for civil rights
in the north. But while no cheerleader for the Ulster
Unionist party (described at one stage as “bereft of
intellectual ballast”) , Patterson is subtle and
enlightening in his sympathetic analysis of the contours of
unionist politics.

He is particularly good at showing how the UUP, which had
ruled from Stormont since 1922, historically protected its
flank from potential drifts to Labour or trade unionism by
periodically giving in to the party’s more hysterical anti-
Catholic wing, thus mobilising tribal loyalties over class
politics. Even regarding the civil-rights era, Patterson
displays a generous empathy for O’Neill’s dilemma at
balancing the diverse elements of his party.

Patterson does not dispute that, under Stormont, there was
anti-Catholic discrimination (though he paints such
practices in the 1960s as conspicuous but isolated, rather
than widespread) but portrays figures such as Bernadette
Devlin, and groups such as People’s Democracy, as firebrand
radicals whose aggressive direct action was largely
responsible for undermining loyalist support for O’Neill’s
mild reforms.

Similarly, far from seeing the power- sharing experiment of
1973-74 as a missed chance for peace, Patterson says that
the Sunningdale Agreement’s “overambitious ‘Irish
dimension’” largely helped destroy reformist unionism. He
highlights the widespread unionist support enjoyed by the
paramilitary-affiliated Ulster Workers’ Council, whose
strike brought down the executive.

After three decades of revisionist history, such an
understanding treatment of unionist fears hardly
constitutes radical historio-graphy, even if it raises
republican hackles. But Patterson’s elucidation of the role
of class in the northern Protestant community makes a
refreshing change from the more usual emphasis on
nationalist perspectives.

More uncomfortable is the assertion that when the arms
crisis of 1970 threatened the fabric of the 26-county
state, the republic’s body politic, led by Fianna Fail,
chose non-interventionist stability over active support for
northern Catholics. This tendency has, if anything,
increased in the intervening years: even Charles Haughey’s
1979 triumph is attributed more to Jack Lynch’s fiscal
misjudgments than republican irredentism. The republic’s
population was more concerned with the economic body blows
of the 1970s and 1980s and, later, the fruits of the Celtic

But in driving home his interlocking themes — that the
republic’s modernisation and material concerns were
mirrored by a fracturing of unionist confidence and
moderate politics in the north — Patterson underplays other
important elements. He acknowledges the far-reaching impact
of television programmes, such as The Late Late Show, in
challenging the south’s conservative religious ethos, but
giving equal coverage to the mildly dissenting voices on
BBC Northern Ireland in the 1950s seems a somewhat forlorn

Patterson suggests that the republic has not abandoned its
old prejudices as much as some would say, holding up the
wafer-thin majority in favour of the 1995 divorce
referendum as evidence. Such scepticism is welcome in the
hall of mirrors of Irish history, but nevertheless
underestimates the sea change in social attitudes the
republic has undergone since the 1970s.

In fairness, Patterson is under no illusions about the deep
divisions that exist in Northern Ireland. There is an
obvious wistfulness for the north’s few iconoclastic
figures — he writes admiringly of politicians such as Paddy
Devlin, the SDLP’s resident socialist sceptic in the 1970s
— accompanied by a gloomy analysis of the north’s political
evolution. Patterson ultimately sees the peace process as
driven on predictable sectarian lines, from the
emasculation of unionist political influence by the Anglo-
Irish Agreement to the Hume-Adams initiative of the early
1990s and the moribund post-Good Friday political
arrangements, which, he fears, will only institutionalise
the raw divisions of the Troubles.

Such fatalistic pessimism is most marked in the book’s
final chapter, which brings political developments bang up
to date, even discussing the murder of Denis Donaldson in
April. However, Patterson’s subtle eye deserts him the
further he roams into current affairs. His account of the
recent past, both north and south, reads like a breathless
overview culled from secondary sources, in contrast to his
earlier, coolly dissecting style.

Yet at a time when history south of the border reflects the
consensual society around it — even revisionism is no
longer a charged term — Patterson attempts some bold
interpretations. His work may not seamlessly meld its
diverse narratives, but it will provoke the reader. As
always, it depends which side of the border you’re on.

Ireland Since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict is
published by Penguin on Aug 3


Government Campaign To Entice Irish Emigrants Home

30 July 2006 By Eamon Quinn

The government is planning a $300,000 (€236,000) campaign
targeted at encouraging illegal Irish emigrants in New York
to return to fill skilled jobs at home in Ireland.

The government is planning a $300,000 (€236,000) campaign
targeted at encouraging illegal Irish emigrants in New York
to return to fill skilled jobs at home in Ireland. The
campaign, which is scheduled to start in the autumn, will
include flying Revenue Commissioners staff to New York to
advise Irish emigrants on tax and pension issues.

Irish immigration groups in the United States have
estimated that there are as many as 70,000 undocumented and
illegal Irish people working and living in America.

Many have been working in the US for up to 15 years and
face threats, including new legislation to fine employers
$100,000 for employing illegal staff, that could force them
out of work. State employment agency, Fas, is planning to
advertise the campaign in newspapers and run seminars
across New York.

‘‘I feel there is an obligation on ourselves as the state
employment authority when we are in a situation where there
are plenty of jobs and to give them the option to
comeback,” said Gregory Craig, corporate affairs director
at Fas.

‘‘For a while we have asked what are we doing for our own
people in New York.”

Craig was in New York last week working on preliminary
plans for the campaign.

‘‘We would hope to have the Revenue Commissioners with us
and the pension people from social welfare,” said Craig.

‘‘The concern is that if you are in your mid-30s or mid-40s
and have worked in the US for 15 years and have done
reasonably well, they need to know what the pension
situation is and they need to know from the Revenue where
they stand.”

Fas said the campaign would be innovative because it would
be providing advice to potential recruits for the first
time. However, the initial newspaper advertising campaign
is likely to avoid specific references to the undocumented

Meanwhile, Fas is coordinating a visit by up to 12 building
companies from the Construction Industry Federation to
Warsaw next month to try and recruit Polish engineers and


100,000 plus expected to scale Croagh Patrick tomorrow

29/07/2006 - 8:20:08 PM

Over 100,000 pilgrims are expected to make the annual climb
to the peak of Croagh Patrick tomorrow morning.

For the first time since St Patrick himself made the
pilgrimage, his successor the Archbishop of Armagh Sean
Brady will climb to the summit of the mountain.

He will join the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary in
celebrating mass at the peak.

Archbishop Neary said the pilgrimage remains as significant
as it was 1500 years ago.

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