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July 18, 2006

Hain: Shake Up of NI Govt Needed

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 07/18/06 'Shake-Up' Of NI Government Needed: Hain
SF 07/18/06 Hain Challenged After S Armagh Reference In Speech
BT 07/18/06 Plea For Unity Over Sectarian Thuggery
BB 07/18/06 Three NI Parties Are 'In The Red'
UT 07/18/06 UDA 'Holding Treasury To Ransom'
BT 07/18/06 Court Bid To Stop Bombing Retrial
SF 07/18/06 SF’s Campaign To End Attacks On Fire Fighters & Ambulances
BT 07/18/06 Opin: Loyalism On The Long Road Towards Change
BT 07/18/06 Opin: New Government Plan? Reward Bad Behaviour
BT 07/18/06 Opin: Home Truths We Need To Understand
UT 07/18/06 Heatwave Hits NI
UT 07/18/06 Irish Citizens Evacuated From Lebanon
BT 07/18/06 Ulster Group Urges Boycott Over Killing Of Greyhounds
BB 07/18/06 Mickey Spillane, Creator Of Mike Hammer, Dies At 88
SO 07/18/06 A War Movie With A Difference


'Shake-Up' Of NI Government Needed: Hain

A radical shake-up is needed in the number of devolved
government departments in Northern Ireland, Peter Hain has

By:Press Association

In a keynote address reviewing the challenges for
Stormont`s politicians, the Northern Ireland Secretary gave
the region`s 108 MLAs until the power-sharing deadline of
November 24 a chance to take responsibility for
restructuring the future government of Northern Ireland.

However, he also warned: "If they have not done so by
November 24, then I shall move ahead rapidly with the
changes that I believe will improve the effective
governance of Northern Ireland."

In a speech reviewing the work his ministerial team has
done on what would normally be devolved issues, the
minister said that if it was right to ask local government
to slash the number of councils in the region from 26 to
seven, then it was also right to focus on the future shape
of central government and whether 11 departments were
needed to deliver public services in Northern Ireland.

"Following implementation of the review of public
administration, a number of departments will simply be
unsustainable in their current form," he said.

"The Department of the Environment, for example, will see
many of its functions transferred to local authorities and,
if it is recommended by the ongoing review of environmental
governance, many of its remaining functions may transfer to
a new environment agency.

"The Department of Regional Development will see
responsibility for water transferred to the new Government-
owned company and responsibility for local roads
transferred to councils.

"And even in health and the two education departments,
significant parts of these departments will transfer to the
new Health and Social Services Authority and the Education
and Skills Authority."

The Reverend Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists and Sinn
Fein have queried the current structure of the 11
government departments in Northern Ireland and have
suggested changes.

Critics of the devolved departments, which are currently
administered by British direct rule ministers, have
described them as unwieldy, bureaucratic and in some cases

During the last power-sharing executive, there were
ministers for enterprise; health; education; employment and
learning; agriculture and rural development; finance;
culture, arts and leisure; environment; regional
development and social development.

There was also an Office of First and Deputy First

They remained when devolution was suspended at Stormont in
October 2002.

Mr Hain, however, today argued that a reorganisation of the
departments would allow government to bring together areas
of policy which, in his experience, currently hindered the
delivery of public services.

"Does the separation of schools and further education (in
the Departments of Education and Employment and Learning)
really enable us to best deliver the new post-14 (years of
age) curriculum?" he asked.

"Or is having a link between business and skills more

"Does the separation of the government agency that pays
benefits from the department that has responsibility for
getting people back into work make sense?

"Can we properly deliver a joined-up policy for the
environment when energy policy is separated from all other
parts of environment policy?

"These are all issues that I want to now look at informing
a view over the coming weeks. This is not simply an issue
of numbers but of effective governance."


Hain Challenged After South Armagh Reference In Glenties Speech

Published: 18 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has
challenged the British Secretary of State Peter Hain to
demonstrate his newly found concern for the views of the
people of Crossmaglen regarding policing by stopping the
proposed PSNI land theft in the town. Mr Murphy’s comments
come after Peter Hain referred to the people of Crossmaglen
in his Glenties speech on Sunday night.

Mr Murphy said:

“While many local people in South Armagh are sceptical if
Peter Hain has ever actually met anyone from Crossmaglen he
claimed in his Glenties speech to have knowledge of their
views on Policing.

“As the person elected by the people of that area and
someone who lives in South Armagh I can speak with some
authority on their views on the policing issue. Policing
remains a massive sore in South Armagh. The PSNI are not
viewed as an accountable or representative force. They
operate from heavily fortified military bases and
harassment levels remain high.

“One issue however which has caused much local anger in
Crossmaglen in particular is the plan by the PSNI to steal
land from local residents in order to maintain a military
fortress in the town. This is not what the British
government promised in its demilitarisation package nor is
it what Patten envisaged for the future of policing.

“So if Hain is genuinely concerned about the views of the
people of Crossmaglen then he will demonstrate this by
removing the threat of the PSNI to conduct this seedy land
grab and ensure that all British occupied land in South
Armagh returns to its rightful owners. Otherwise Hain’s
reference to the people of Crossmaglen in his Glenties
speech will be exposed as little more than a pathetic sound
bite.” ENDS


Plea For Unity Over Sectarian Thuggery

By Clare Weir
18 July 2006

The mayor of Londonderry has called on every person in the
city to take a stand against sectarianism after the latest
in a series of attacks left a man fighting for his life.

SDLP first citizen Helen Quigley spoke out after it emerged
that PSNI patrols are to be stepped up following an attack
on party-goers at a barbecue which has left 29-year-old
Catholic Paul McCauley fighting for his life.

PSNI Superintendent David Hanna said that the attack on Mr
McCauley, which has left the father of one in a "critical
condition" in the Royal Victoria Hospital, was being
treated as attempted murder.

The civil servant and two friends were jumped by a gang in
the early hours of Sunday morning at the barbecue.

The perpetrators are thought to have run off to the
predominantly loyalist Irish Street estate, although police
say they may be from outside the area.

Ms Quigley said that every effort must be made to reduce
community tensions.

"I would call on every member of the community to unite and
use whatever influence they have to ensure this extreme
level of hate crime is removed from our society."


Three NI Parties Are 'In The Red'

Three of Northern Ireland's five main parties are in debt,
according to the latest financial accounts.

The figures, published by the Electoral Commission, show
the DUP, UUP and Alliance are in the red by £50,000,
£450,000 and £40,000 respectively.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP, however, each recorded a surplus
for 2005.

In Sinn Fein's case it was £1,000. The SDLP, which was
struggling with debts just a few years ago, has recovered
with a surplus of almost £60,000.

The DUP's debts have fallen from last year, but legal costs
for the party have risen to about £14,000.

The DUP revealed it had almost 3,000 members and that it
had dissolved three branches, including one in Moira. The
members joined other branches.

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy
said Sinn Fein, which has tackled a £200,000 debt, is
largely financed by contributions from elected

"These total almost £500,000 - the party received donations
of around £140,000 last year," she said.

"The SDLP raised funds of about £330,000.

"The DUP received donations of around £90,000 but its
largest source of income was an Electoral Commission grant.

"The Ulster Unionists received donations of about £75,000
and income from membership fees rose to around £220,000."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/18 11:50:11 GMT


UDA 'Holding Treasury To Ransom'

Loyalist terrorist godfathers in Northern Ireland are
trying to hold the British Treasury to ransom with demands
for a financial package, it has been claimed.

By:Press Association

As Northern Ireland Office Minister David Hanson prepared
to meet representatives of the Ulster Defence Association
(UDA) at Stormont later today, nationalist SDLP Assembly
member John Dallat launched a scathing attack on the
British Government, accusing it of offering sweeteners to
loyalist and republican elements.

Urging Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to reject UDA
demands for a financial package in return for the
abandonment of paramilitarism and criminality, Mr Dallat
said: "The Brigadiers (of the UDA) have moved up from
extorting sweetie shops and building sites to sticking up
the Treasury.

"There are several good reasons why they should be told in
no uncertain terms where to go."

The East Derry MLA added: "There must be some sort of
morality scale in public policy.

"Handing money to the UDA is a massive slap in the face for
the victims of violence in general and the victims of the
UDA in particular.

"Unfortunately, it fits neatly into the Northern Ireland
Office approach of buying off sectional interests one by
one with shady side deals sweetened by taxpayers` money."

Mr Hanson will meet members of the Ulster Political
Research Group (UPRG), which provides political analysis to
the UDA.

Last week, the group met Mr Hain in Belfast and also Irish
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

There have been signals that the UDA has been considering
abandoning paramilitarism and criminality in return for a
generous support package to wean its members away from the
gun and involve them in regenerating working-class

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), which is linked to the
Progressive Unionist Party, is also believed to have
undertaken a consultation with its members on its future in
the wake of last year`s moves by the IRA to end its armed
campaign and complete its weapons decommissioning

PUP leader David Ervine, an Assembly member for East
Belfast, has forged links at Stormont with Sir Reg Empey`s
Ulster Unionists in a move which will guarantee a majority
of unionists in the next Stormont Executive.

The admission of Mr Ervine into the Ulster Unionist
Assembly Group was, however, fiercely criticised by other
unionists, cross-community and nationalist politicians
because of the UVF`s failure to turn its back on
criminality and sectarian violence.

In the face of criticism, Sir Reg said the move was part of
an initiative by him to draw loyalist paramilitaries away
from violence and criminality into playing a more positive
role for their communities.

During an event at Stormont today to announce plans to
radically shake up the future shape of a devolved
government in Northern Ireland, Mr Hain insisted that no
figure had been discussed with the UPRG for loyalist

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: "I am encouraged by
the engagement we have had and I personally have had with
loyalist groups, including the UPRG and also the PUP.

"I think there has been a sea change in the thinking of
loyalist representatives and I want to encourage that.

"We are not talking about particular sums of money at the
moment but we are talking about switching from violent
activity and from negative engagement."


Court Bid To Stop Bombing Retrial

By Ann O'Loughlin
18 July 2006

Building contractor Colm Murphy has gone to the High Court
to try to stop his retrial on conspiracy charges connected
with the Real IRA bombing of Omagh in 1998, which killed 29

The trial is scheduled to open before the non-jury Special
Criminal Court on January 11 next but may be delayed
because of the legal challenge.

Murphy (53) from Co Louth claims that the "systemic delay"
in prosecuting him has prejudiced his right to a fair and
speedy trial. That delay, he contends, included a three-
year delay by the Director of Public Prosecutions in
proceeding with perjury charges against two gardai who gave
evidence at his first trial, which opened in 2001.

One of those gardai, Det Liam Donnelly, earlier this year
brought an unsuccessful High Court proceedings aiming at
halting his trial on perjury charges. He and the second
officer, Det John Fahy, have been returned for trial later
this year.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill said yesterday there was
urgency in the case and he returned it for mention on July
27 next.

Murphy, a native of Co Armagh but with an address at
Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth, was freed on bail
last year after the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed his
conviction and 14-year sentence for conspiracy offences
connected with the Real IRA bombing in Omagh.


Sinn Féin Backs Calls For Public Awareness Campaign To End Attacks On Fire Fighters And Ambulance Crews

Published: 18 July, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald this morning led a party
delegation to meet with representatives of the Dublin Fire
Brigade service in Liberty Hall. Also on the delegation
were Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD and Councillors Daithí Doolan and
Felix Gallagher. The Sinn Féin delegation backed calls for
greater support for emergency workers including a public
awareness campaign aimed at reducing attacks on Fire
Fighters and Ambulance Crews.

Ms. McDonald

"It is totally unacceptable that fire fighters or anyone
else working in the emergency services should be subject to
assault while carrying out their duties. The full extent of
the law should be used against those involved. We are also
supporting demands for the provision of stab vests and
safety equipment for fire fighters and ambulance crews. In
addition, fire fighters should be compensated in the same
way as Gardaí who are attacked and injured while at work.

"This is just one of the many problems facing fire fighters
in this city. The Fire Brigade Service has always been
treated, by the government, as the poor relation when it
comes to emergency services.

"It is a disgrace that despite repeated requests no fire
risk assessment has been carried out in Dublin for 20
years. The Fire Brigade are not even represented on many of
the major planning forums in the city and county. Dublin
City has been transformed over the last twenty years but we
continue to rely on an over stretched and under resourced
Fire Service. The lack of planning and resources are
endangering both the lives of the general public and the
Fire Fighters themselves.

"We need to support our fire brigade services. We need a
proper fire safety plan for the city, which includes
supporting fire fighters as they carry out their duty.
There needs to be an immediate risk assessment carried out
for the city to assess what resources, finance and training
are required to meet current and future needs." ENDS


Opin: Loyalism On The Long Road Towards Change

With the UDA and UVF at a crossroads Brian Rowan examines
the pace of change within loyalism.

18 July 2006

Take a look inside the political meeting places of the
peace process. Look at those who, in recent days, have been
sitting across the table from the British and Irish
governments, and ask yourself what threat the
paramilitaries of loyalism pose to a potential November

The answer is no threat if it is a deal at Stormont, a deal
that restores power-sharing and, yes, a deal that is done
between Paisley and the Provos.

There are no trenches. The loyalists are not getting ready
to resist.

In the past week or so, members of the leadership of the
UDA - hidden in Ulster Political Research Group delegations
- held talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
at Stormont and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

This is the stuff of considerable risk for both

When you allow the current paramilitary leadership to be
part of this process, as has happened in recent days, you
bring in someone very close to those with detailed
knowledge of the Pat Finucane murder as well as the UDA
"brigadier" who was in charge in North Antrim/Londonderry
at the time of the Greysteel pub killings.

Today's UDA leadership may well have won the internal power
struggle that ended in the expulsion of the Shoukri
brothers - Andre and Ihab - but this was not a victory for
"good" over "bad" as some in this paramilitary organisation
would want you to believe.

Yes, at the very top of the UDA, there are some - maybe
even a majority - who are trying to do the right thing in
terms of re-involving the loyalist paramilitaries in the
peace process.

But there is a long road to travel before the UDA can with
any credibility begin to talk about the "good" and the
"bad" - "bad" and "worse" is how many still view the make-
up of this organisation.

Getting rid of the Shoukris was a beginning and not an end
for the UDA.

A week on from those talks with Peter Hain, David Hanson
and the most senior political officials in the Northern
Ireland Office, a loyalist participant in that meeting
still insists that decommissioning is "not even on the

All of the talk is about "transformation" from the
paramilitary to the political and about creating "an
enabling environment".

The UDA is talking the talk to all who will listen, and
inside the Northern Ireland Office, there is a belief that
a majority of the paramilitary leadership is indeed serious
about change.

But that leadership will need to convince the many sceptics
- and as well as being helped within this process the
paramilitaries will have to help it.

The governments - both the British and the Irish - are
right to involve themselves in this dialogue.

It is right that they should test the stated willingness of
the UDA to change, and that can only be done in a dialogue
with that organisation's so-called brigadiers.

But for how long can the talking go on without
decommissioning and as widespread criminality continues?

There needs to be some time limit to this dialogue, and,
soon, the radar screen needs something on it to show that a
"transformation" is actually taking place, and the
paramilitaries need to provide that proof.

If they accept - as they seem to - that the IRA's "war" is
over, then what is the justification for them holding on to
their guns?

There are no reasons, only excuses.

The "enabling environment" arrived when the IRA moved to
formally end its armed campaign last summer and in the
follow-up acts of decommissioning in September.

But loyalist eyes are still fixed on the November 24
political deadline at Stormont, and their concern is the
shape of a British-Irish political arrangement if Ian
Paisley is unable or unwilling to do a deal.

Inside the loyalist community, at the very top of the
paramilitary organisations, source after source will tell
you that the DUP leader has nothing to fear from them if he
does the deal with Sinn Fein.

Indeed, they are almost willing him towards that day in
order to avoid the Plan B alternative.

But "he's stuck," a senior loyalist paramilitary source
observed - stuck, he claims, because there are those in his
party still saying "not an inch".

"He (Paisley) doesn't know what to do," the source
continued - a source who was involved in the loyalist "war"
for 30 and more years, and a paramilitary leader who is
convinced that the threat of the IRA has gone.

"It took a long time to hear the words 'it's over'," he
said, but he is now certain that the IRA's "war" is over
and that Ulster "is not sold out".

This source is closer to the UVF/Red Hand Commando and
knows in the finest detail the likely outcome of the
internal debate on the future of those organisations - an
outcome he believes would already have been declared had
the prospect of an inter-governmental Plan B not been

In terms of loyalist paramilitary change, he poses the
question: Where were the woolly faces and the AK47s at the
11th night bonfires?

What he means is that there was none of the usual
paramilitary shows-of-strength.

"Now that's change," the source said, change he believes
must be reflected in the next report by the paramilitary
watchdog - the Independent Monitoring Commission.

He also acknowledges that "a massive, massive effort" was
made on the republican side to keep the Twelfth of July
quiet, and he says he knows "the loyalist side can deliver"
if a Stormont deal is done by November 24.

The loyalists, at a leadership level across the range of
paramilitary organisations, are once again thinking and
talking politically, but they are waiting for Ian Paisley
to decide and they are not yet sure that he will make the
right decision.

It is decision time, too, for those at the top of the UDA,
the UVF and the Red Hand Commando who have talked that talk
about "transformation".

The peace process is waiting for a sign that the talk is
meant and that the change will be real.


Opin: New Government Plan? Reward Bad Behaviour

By Barry White
18 July 2006

As any parent knows, if a child is behaving badly, the last
thing you do is give it a reward. You may only want to
divert its attention, so it calms down and learns sense,
but it's a dangerous tactic.

In Northern Ireland, however, there are no such rules. When
governments see no way forward, they'll try anything once -
even if it looks like a reward for bad behaviour. The funny
thing is it can work, for a time.

Take what the two governments are doing in the hope of
getting loyalists to feel better about themselves and
therefore put pressure on the DUP to do the deal some of
its members badly want to do.

I groaned when I heard the Government were giving the
Orangemen £104,000 over a three- year period to turn the
Twelfth into an tourist attraction, almost the same amount
Belfast is giving St Patrick's Day celebrations. What were
they thinking of, when the Order could obviously afford to
pay an organiser itself - and at a time when Belfast's Rape
Crisis Centre faces the loss of its piddling £66,000 a

(I take it the threat against the Centre is a public
warning to be more careful about supplying accounts; no
Secretary of State could let himself be known as the man
who closed a centre for the sexually abused.)

I did a double-take, too, when I heard £3m was to be spent
replacing paramilitary murals with tributes to non-violent
heroes. But no, the taxpayer was paying people, presumably
with the paramilitaries' support, to paint over drawings
nobody but themselves, and tourists, wanted. (Full
accounts, please, for every pot of paint.)

Then there was the £33m hand-out for developing working
class loyalist areas, which sounded as if it was to make up
for the sums claimed by better-organised republicans. Could
it also have been a response to last September's riots,
hoping to avoid a repeat this year? That was the conclusion
many came to.

Finally, as a reward for a quiet Twelfth - "If there's
trouble, everything's off" - the Taoiseach gave an audience
to the Ulster Political Researchers, with UDA
representatives in tow. He got some electoral credit as a
peacemaker and they got an assurance that if devolution
isn't established by November 24, the north-south co-
operation promised will be nothing like joint authority.

See what I mean about there being no hard and fast rules of
behaviour? A Westminster committee had just found loyalist
criminals were in league with republicans - whose smuggling
has inflated house prices in south Armagh - but that hasn't
put them out in the cold.

Sir Reg Empey had already given a master-class in
pragmatism, of course, when he recruited David Ervine to
the UUP team. It was a gamble, but he had little left to
lose and by giving the UVF a whiff of democratic
respectability, he might even get them addicted.

It's "be nice to loyalists" time and, for all we know, it
might pay dividends. Politics in the Assembly has ground to
a standstill, and when governments don't know what to do,
they often try a completely new tack.

The idea must be to stop loyalists feeling they are always
losing out to republicans - so good at claiming funds from
a government they don't want - and get them to make the DUP
re- think their attitude to power-sharing. If so, it's the
act of supreme optimists; but then what else are Tony and

Last week, Ian Paisley took out a speech he could have
delivered 40 years ago, ruling out any compromise with
republicans. It went down well with a few blue-hatted
matrons, but not so well with the DUP's liberal
contingency, who are up for a deal if it can be proved the
IRA has abandoned violence and criminality forever. (Big

In Belfast, the much more low-key Twelfth was at least
partly due to sensible Parades Commission decisions and all
the buttering-up that has been going on. A cross-community
football tournament in Ardoyne helped lower tensions and
Sinn Fein made sure no protest got out of hand.

Meanwhile, I got no sense of triumphalism, just the normal
good humour, over-the-top behaviour and painful feet in the
main parade. The best band, for me, wore the khaki with
braces and leggings of Somme soldiers. For endurance, I'd
nominate the man in the dinosaur costume and the mini Elvis

Yes, the Order is loosening up, year by year, even before
the Orangefest organiser goes to work. For me, the parade's
attraction is the contrast between the sober- suited and
the wacky - and the bands competing to make the most noise.

It's changing, slowly, and all I'd ask of the opposition is
to be patient. The main thing, this year, is that it wasn't
a setback to the political process.

Disappearing Trimble

INCIDENTALLY, where was Lord Trimble on the Twelfth? The
Times sought him out at a lunchtime seminar in London on
radical Islam, instead of marching through Belfast "in
scenes slightly redolent of a Tango advert".

Nomadic deja vu

I'VE seen the Nomadic already. In the 1953 film Titanic -
the best - when Clifton Webb buys the last place on the
ferry from an emigrating family at Cherbourg harbour ...


Opin: Home Truths We Need To Understand

18 July 2006

Northern Ireland people appreciate straight talking, rather
than roundabout rhetoric, and that's what they got from
Peter Hain last weekend. If everyone studied it, and acted
upon it, we would be well on the way to resolving our
political and economic problems.

He focused on the necessity of a new approach to two
outstanding issues - the unsustainability of the economy
and the continued withholding of support for the police by
republicans. Unless we become less dependent on the public
sector, the outlook is bleak and unless the whole community
gets behind the police, devolution may be impossible.

Who could deny the truth in Mr Hain's censures? "Far too
many people and politicians are so rooted in the past that
they are unable or unwilling to look to the future. The
time has long gone when politicians could act as if the
world could be stopped while they sorted out their

His warnings apply to the UK as a whole, but particularly
to Northern Ireland. Western economies needed highly
skilled and flexible workforces to compete with Asia, yet
there was a "monumental" waste of resources in the schools,
with "appalling" skill standards at the bottom.

The Secretary of State proposed two solutions for Northern
Ireland's economy: radical reform within and much more
extensive north-south co-operation. Bureaucracy would be
cut by having seven new councils, with real powers and more
money - levelling up charges which in Britain have been
"more than double".

He was careful to emphasise that cross-border co-operation
would be "practical rather than constitutional", with
sharing in medical treatment, energy and industrial
investment. Few could object, but if the north's economy is
to benefit, the Government cannot ignore the gap between
incentives and fuel duties north and south of the border.

But most of his speech was devoted to policing, now seen as
the main obstacle to power-sharing. While unionists insist
that Sinn Fein must support the PSNI before an executive
can be formed, republicans want policing and criminal
justice powers transferred to the Assembly before re-
considering their attitude to the police.

With new legislation coming soon, Mr Hain is asking Sinn
Fein to accept the police's role in practice, while not
demanding any formal endorsement in principle. It is a fine
distinction, which Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly - who himself
met police to guarantee a peaceful Ardoyne protest last
week - initially rejected. On reflection, however, Sinn
Fein may realise that refusal to support the PSNI
reinforces unionists' belief that republicans still oppose
law and order.

Mr Hain has set out the challenges - and the consequences
of failure. Politicians should be warned; the status quo is
not an option.


Heatwave Hits NI

Temperatures are expected to soar to sizzling new heights,
with the promise of even hotter weather to come.

The Press Association Weather Centre predicted many
readings of 33-34C (91-93F), especially in the south east
of England.

Most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and southern
Scotland will also bathe in late 80s Fahrenheit and low 90s

The mercury was again forecast to outstrip holiday hotspots
such as Ibiza, Benidorm, Crete, Malta, Nice and Tenerife.

The best that Ibiza could manage yesterday was 32.1C
(89.8F), while the warmest place in the Canaries was
Lanzarote airport (29.1C, 84.4F) and Nice reached 29.9C

A reading of 32.7C (90.9F) at Heathrow airport in west
London beat the previous UK highest figure of 32.4C (90.3F)
on June 12.

The hottest day of all in this spell is expected to be
tomorrow, when temperatures may reach 36C (96.8F),

equalling the record for the hottest July day set on July
22, 1911 in Epsom, Surrey.

A record temperature of 38.1C (100.6F) for the UK was set
at Gravesend, Kent, on August 10, 2003.

PA WeatherCentre spokeswoman Rachel Vince said: "We can
expect the same pattern as the last few days, with most of
the UK having lots of sunshine, and there being only a few
wisps of cloud.

"It will be more cloudy in north west Scotland, but still
quite warm."

The exceptionally hot weather is expected to begin to break
tomorrow night with thundery storms forecast for the south
west of England spreading through the rest of England and
Wales on Thursday - although temperatures will still remain

The British Government has issued smog warnings for the
coming days.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said
high concentrations of ground-level ozone were forecast.

The highest levels are expected to be in the Midlands and
the north of England and towards the south east tomorrow
and Thursday.

Ozone concentrations are likely to reduce to moderate and
low across the UK as light cloud cover arrives and
temperatures decline slightly from Friday.

"Despite the recent high levels of ozone, peak levels are
generally decreasing in the UK thanks to tighter emission
standards for road vehicles and controls on industrial
processes and domestic sources," a spokesman said.

Some people were more sensitive to ozone than others and
might begin to notice an effect on their breathing, he

He said avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon could
reduce exposure. People with asthma were not necessarily
more sensitive but, if affected, they could use their
"reliever" inhaler.

Ground level ozone is formed when sunlight acts on nitrogen
dioxide and other atmospheric substances close to the

The pollutants that cause ground level ozone come from a
range of sources, including petrol and other fuels.

Employers were also urged to relax office dress codes to
enable workers to wear casual clothes.

The Trades Union Congress launched a "cool work" campaign,
telling firms they would get more from their staff if they
felt comfortable and did not have to wear formal clothes
such as jackets and ties.


Irish Citizens Evacuated From Lebanon

Around 80 Irish citizens evacuated from Lebanon have
arrived in the United Arab Emirates.

They were bussed out of Lebanon to Syria yesterday, and
flown from Damascus to Dubai last night.

Aer Lingus will fly them home later today or tomorrow


Ulster Group Urges Boycott Over Killing Of Greyhounds

By Lisa Smyth
18 July 2006

An Ulster greyhound welfare group has said claims of the
one-man slaughter of 10,000 of the breed deemed to be too
slow for racing is "only the tip of the iceberg".

The scandal was reported in the weekend newspapers which
claimed that David Smith from Seaham in Co Durham charged
trainers £10 a time to shoot the animals through the head
with a bolt gun when they failed to win.

Jill Hobson of Greyhound Action Northern Ireland said that
many of the animals killed at the alleged slaughter house -
dubbed the greyhound killing fields by the Press - were
bred in Northern Ireland.

Appealing for a boycott of all greyhound race tracks, she
said: "The industry admits that 25,000 greyhounds are bred
and registered every year but we believe the number bred is
actually many thousands more than this, when taking into
account pups that never get registered and those killed by
breeders at a very young age.

"This is a money-led industry and owners don't hold onto
the dogs when they stop winning. The dogs are bred purely
to make money for these people and if there's no more
support for the industry it will soon die out."

According to Ms Hobson, many of the unwanted dogs are
disposed of in a horrific manner - they are shot in the
head or their throats are cut.

And she highlighted examples where greyhounds are found
abandoned with their ears torn off or burnt off with acid.

"They do that so the greyhound can't be traced to its owner
because when they are registered, their details are
tattooed on their ears," said Ms Hobson.

"The worst thing is that because greyhounds have been given
such a bad press over the years, those that are lucky
enough to find their way to an animal sanctuary are very
often never re-homed because there is so much
misunderstanding about the breed.

"They really are the most friendly, gorgeous dogs and
they're actually extremely lazy. What we need to do is
educate people about how cruel this so-called sport really


Mickey Spillane, Creator Of Mike Hammer, Dies At 88

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Mickey Spillane, creator of Mike
Hammer, a hard-boiled detective who avenged wrongdoing in
13 novels and became a popular character in films and
television, died today at his home in South Carolina. He
was 88.

Spillane's death was confirmed by a funeral home in his
hometown of Murrells Inlet, according to the Associated

The Mike Hammer novels were disdained by many critics but
sold 130 million copies. Relishing his success, Spillane
played the part of Mike Hammer in the 1963 film version of
``The Girl Hunters'' and appeared in Miller Lite beer
commercials for almost two decades.

In his private life, Spillane lived simply. He became a
Jehovah's Witness in the early 1950s and moved his family
to a beach community in South Carolina. He continued to
write on a manual typewriter. He created other tough-guy
characters, such as Tiger Mann in a spate of novels written
in the mid-1960s, and Dogeron Kelly in ``The Erection
Set,'' published in 1972.

In 1995, Esquire magazine observed that Spillane had
survived a hurricane and a stroke and had entered ``the
living hell of being a writer mostly out of print, alive in
foreign editions or in cellophane-sleeve paperback heaven
at mystery bookstores.''

The next year, Spillane responded with his 13th Mike Hammer
novel, ``Black Alley,'' and in 2003 -- at age 85 --
delivered ``Something's Down There,'' with a different hero
in Mako Hooker, a retired government contract killer.

`Tough Guy Characters'

Spillane changed both the publishing world and mystery
writing, said Max Allan Collins, who penned ``Road to
Perdition.'' His novels, depicting sex and violence,
centered on heroes who committed acts previously associated
with antagonists.

``You can't have Dirty Harry without Mike Hammer,'' Collins
said in an interview today. ``Spillane opened the door for
all the tough guy characters to follow.''

Spillane's writing also spurred growth in paperback
publishing, Collins said. While fewer than 10,000 hardcover
copies of Spillane's first Mike Hammer novel were sold, the
paperback version exploded with more than 2 million sales.

Frank Morrison Spillane was born March 9, 1918, in
Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Catherine Anne and
John Joseph Spillane. He was nicknamed Mickey by his
father, an Irish- American bartender.

Story Telling

Spillane attended elementary school in Brooklyn before the
family moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. The new neighborhood
was rough, though Spillane discovered schoolmates
appreciated his ability to tell ghost stories.

He returned to Brooklyn to graduate from Erasmus High
School in 1935 at the height of the Depression, and soon
sold one story to a magazine. To eke out a living, he took
odd jobs and worked as a lifeguard for several summers at
Breezy Point, New York, until he enrolled at Fort Hays
State College in Kansas. He played football and swam on the
college teams but did not stay to graduate.

By the end of 1940, Spillane was back in New York, working
as a temporary salesman for Gimbel's department store
during the Christmas shopping rush. He was befriended on
the job by another Brooklyn-born youth, who introduced
Spillane to his brother, Ray Gill, a comic book editor.

Speedy Writer

Spillane wrangled a job and proved to be a fast and
prolific writer. He quit the job to join the U.S. Army Air
Force after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. To his
chagrin, he was not sent overseas; instead he was assigned
to work as a flight instructor. In Mississippi, he met and
married his first wife, Mary Ann Pearce, in 1945.

After the war, the young couple returned to Brooklyn, where
Spillane joined the Gill brothers in a comic-book
freelancing venture, but living costs rose faster than his
income. In order to buy a house, Spillane vowed to write
and sell a novel.

With the help of an acquaintance of Ray Gill, Spillane sold
his first Mike Hammer novel, ``I, the Jury,'' to E. P.
Dutton & Co., published in 1947.

In the next five years Spillane wrote six more novels,
including ``My Gun is Quick''' and ``Vengeance is Mine.''
The story lines followed the arc of the first Mike Hammer
story: incensed by an evil deed, the hero avenges the
wrongdoing with his fists, gun and wits. He conquers
beautiful women in the process. Spillane was credited with
breaking the taboos on sex and violence in mystery writing.

Spillane spurned the moniker of ``author,'' insisting he
wrote for money. He took a long break in the 1950s, when he
became a Jehovah's witness and moved his family to Murrells

His first marriage, which produced four children, ended in
divorce. In 1964, he married Hollywood actress Sherri
Malinou, who posed nude on the cover of his novel, ``The
Erection Set.'' Malinou preferred to live in California,
while Spillane wrote in South Carolina. That marriage also
ended in divorce. Spillane married a younger neighbor, Jane
Rodgers Johnson, in 1983. In addition to his wife,
survivors include his children Kathy, Ward, Mike and

To contact the reporters on this story:
Kathryn Harris in Los Angeles at .


John Fitzpatrick

A War Movie With A Difference

Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, set in 1920s
wartorn Ireland, brilliantly captures a community’s
struggle to make and shape history.

Ken Loach is a filmmaker with a deep interest in history
and politics, and so far as the latter is concerned he has
always disdained to conceal his own views. Good for him.
What shines most attractively through his films, however,
is an even deeper interest in people, and an abiding
conviction that we should pay particular attention to those
people who do not usually find the centre of any stage.

Looking back over his prolific years since 1990, the films
are as likely to be about labourers on a London building
site, or families struggling on a housing estate in
Lancashire, or individuals battling the drink and drugs in
Glasgow as they are to be set in the Nicaragua of the
Sandinistas or in the midst of the Spanish civil war.
Indeed, we should recall that 40 years ago he made his mark
with a film about a homeless mother whose child was taken
into care, and followed up with a story about a young boy
in Yorkshire whose heart stirred for a bird. It is, in
fact, when he has taken on the historic conflicts, or
focused on ‘ishoos’ such as rail privatisation in Britain
or economic migrancy in the US, that his characters and
their dramas have sometimes struggled to come fully to

His latest, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, is, I think,
his finest film to date, and a richly deserving winner of
the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It is another
collaboration with his regular scriptwriter Paul Laverty,
and is set during the War of Independence and Civil War in
Ireland in the 1920s. We do not, naturally, get an account
of Michael Collins or Eamon de Valera or anybody else that
we might have heard of. The story picks out a small rural
community in remote west Cork, and in particular a young
man who has just qualified as a doctor and is about to
emigrate to seize his glittering prize in a famous London

At the heart of this film is discussion and debate, and
that is a rather wonderful thing in itself. At the heart of
the debate are questions about the relationship between the
private and public spheres, about convictions and ideals,
and whether or not and when we should fight for them –
about the terrible price we might pay, but also about the
compelling reasons for doing so.

The debate centres on Damien (Cillian Murphy). What should
he do? Should he join the IRA or go to London and pursue a
medical career? Should he execute a spy from his own ranks,
or let the lad he has known all his life slip mercifully
away? Should he accept the Treaty, the oath and partition
as the best deal available, or fight on against his own
countrymen – including his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney),
a comrade during the War of Independence but then a foe in
the Civil War? Should he maintain the position he has now
assumed, or retire from the public fray to work as a local
doctor and raise a family with his beloved Sinead (Orla
Fitzgerald)? In the song of the title (written in the
nineteenth century by Robert Dwyer Joyce, himself a
doctor), a young man agonises over the choice between
settling down with his girl or joining the rebellion of the
United Irishmen of 1798: ‘’Twas hard the mournful words to
frame / To break the ties that bound us / But harder still
to bear the shame / Of foreign chains around us.’

Loach tells the story with a breathless succession of
rather self-contained scenes – over a couple of hours. It
is a bravura performance. Nearly all of them carry a
terrific punch. He is a master of the naturalistic mode,
whether in earnest domestic scenes or in lethal combat. We
are spared nothing of the brutality of all sides; at no
point does Loach allow us to flinch from the horror, at the
price to be paid. The larger story is of course both epic
and tragic, and no treatment of it could duck the
consequences of that. Loach, however, manages both to tell
the well-known catastrophe, and also to transcend it, to
confront us with the intensity of how such hard times and
desperately hard choices are actually lived.

He makes marvellous use of the glowering countryside, and
revisits his locations to ram home with great effect the
bitter ironies that changed circumstances did indeed bring
to this conflict. This is most obvious with the violent
visitations to the farmhouse home of Sinead, but it is a
powerful trope throughout the film – in the barracks, on
the main street, out on the hills. A maid twice leads us
through the forbidding shadows of the hall in the ‘big
house’ to wait outside the study of Sir John Hamilton – the
first time with a farm labourer who Sir John is about to
hand over to the British, and the second time with a squad
of IRA men who have come to take Sir John away.

Only one scene wobbles seriously, when a British army
officer rather too hysterically, and instrumentally,
explains to Damien the hardships endured by the Black and
Tans – the British mercenaries sent to crush the IRA in the
War of Independence – in the trenches of the Somme during
the First World War. For the rest, however, Loach and
Laverty very deftly pack around the enthralling progression
of the young man a full account of the politics of the
period. The cast, especially Orla Fitzgerald and Liam
Cunningham, give great performances. Only Padraic Delaney
struggles somewhat in the role of Damien’s brother, because
the part is significantly underwritten given its importance
to Damien’s development. Perhaps Loach succumbed here to a
little too much symmetry, but what else could bring home
quite so powerfully the truly awful nature of the Civil
War? One feels too that their relationship would have been
colder, more bitter and more repressed than the rather
teary, emotional stand-off shown here. In any event,
Cillian Murphy is quite outstanding in bringing us a
thoroughly convincing account of a young man – kind, shy,
conceited, intelligent, stubborn and proud – trying to do
the right thing.

It has been said that Loach gives too much prominence to
the socialist politics of the IRA, especially those on the
anti-Treaty side. To be fair, he makes it very clear that
Dan (Liam Cunningham), the champion of that here, is not
exactly typical of this milieu. It is true that the
fortunes of such revolutionary nationalism as flourished in
those times really fell with James Connolly and the Irish
Citizen Army in 1916. On the other hand, it does no
violence to the history to record that this strand was
still represented in the republican movement. There were,
for example, several workers’ seizures of creameries, farms
and gasworks in this period, and so-called ‘soviets’ popped
up in Limerick and Cork.

This debate, urged on by those who want a new social order
and not just a new flag, is brought to life in a striking
scene in a Sinn Fein courtroom, with real weight given to
the protagonists on either side. It is the precursor to the
magnificent set-piece debate that is at the heart of the
film. The local IRA convenes to decide its position on the
Treaty. The men and women that we have got to know sit
around a large room and one after another they speak out,
for and against. All the arguments are rehearsed. We must
fight on – for the martyred dead; against the oath; for the
Catholics in the North; for a socialist republic. We must
take this deal for now – we are faced with immediate and
terrible war; the British are in a corner too; we can
regroup later; it would be a betrayal of the martyrs; the
border is still open to discussion. The debate – it never
stops – is later taken on to the next stage in the local
church when the parish priest threatens the anti-Treaty
side with excommunication.

It is an exhilarating expression of people being utterly
gripped by one of those real, palpable, watershed moments.
‘Lads, we have freedom within our grasp’. says one. ‘We’re
that close. It’s just one inch but it’s still out of reach.
And if we stop now, we will never again...regain the power
that I can feel in this room today. And if we stop short
now, never in our lifetime...will we see that energy again.

The storm of criticism of the film from a few sources in
the British press is so ignorant that it is probably best
simply to ignore it. One example, perhaps. The Sunday
Telegraph reviewer begins her piece with a slight:
‘Ireland, 1919. An idyllic amateur hockey match.’ Seven
words, three solecisms. Hockey? Hurling is a game so old in
Ireland that it is listed among the boyhood deeds of Cú
Chulainn in the first rescension of the Táin Bó Cúalnge
(see the late eleventh-century manuscript Lebor na hUidre,
in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin). An idyll? That was
hardly the point of this opening. Hurling was one of the
crucial vehicles for the development of Irish identity and
nationalism, especially since the foundation of the GAA,
the Gaelic Athletic Association, in 1884. And 1919? The
British government did not even start recruiting Tans (who
arrive in the film at the end of the match) until January

This is not an anti-British film. It is not really about
the British. One wants to say to these reviewers, ‘This
film isn’t about you. It is about some Irish people, and
some issues that concern all human beings.’ Of course, one
does understand that if having a walk-on role is hard
enough to bear, being represented by the Black and Tans and
Auxilaries must be, well, beyond the pale. It is difficult
to avoid the conclusion that what Loach’s critics find
hardest to take is his sympathetic treatment of someone who
believes that there are things worth fighting for and
making sacrifices for, and his touching depiction of a
group of people who have the temerity to engage, as it
were, on equal terms with the challenges of their times.
Not to be missed.

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