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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
July 31, 2006
Locals Believe Loyalists Behind Tobermore Murder
Ronald Mackie was pushed into path of a car in
Northern Ireland. Picture: PA
News About Ireland & The Irish
NO 07/31/06 SF: Locals Believe Behind Tobermore Murder
NO 07/31/06 SF: Hain Is Better Leading Than Writing Letters
NL 07/31/06 It's Time For Reality
IT 08/01/06 Brady Says Mixed Education Would Be A 'New Hurt'
UT 07/31/06 Bloody Sunday Inquiry Delay
NO 07/31/06 Extends Condolences After The Death Of Sean Keenan
UT 07/31/06 Former Councillor Dies
GU 07/31/06 New Feud Rips Apart The
UT 07/31/06 Man Questioned Over Weapons Find
BB 07/31/06 Killer 'Must Get Tough Sentence'
BM 07/31/06 Government 'Letting Developers Dictate Housing Market'
BT 07/31/06 No Alternative
HS 07/31/06 Opin: A War Crime Is Still A War Crime
IT 08/01/06 Bank Warns Of Private Sector Indebtedness
IO 07/31/06 July 'Warmest Month For 17 Years'
IT 08/01/06 Tornado Damages Homes, Cars
IT 08/01/06 OPW Urged To Publish Skellig Plan
Sinn Féin: Local Belief That Paramilitaries Are Behind Tobermore Murder
/noticias.info/ Sinn Féin Assembly member for Mid-Ulster
Geraldine Dougan has said that there is a growing belief
that paramilitaries were behind the murder in
Tobermore over the weekend.
Ms Dougan said:
"There is a fair degree of anger within the local community
at the events in Tobermore on Friday night and the
subsequent reporting of the incident as a hit and run
"There is now a growing belief amongst local people that
paramilitaries were responsible for this murder.
It appears from eye witness accounts that the victim got
into a dispute inside the club with a local
leader. He was then dragged outside a viciously beaten in
front of the rest of his friends before being thrown in
front of a passing car.
"Local people I have spoken to are bemused at the line
initially taken by the PSNI that this was a hit and run
accident when it appears to have been common knowledge that
this man had been the victim of a brutal assault by
loyalists and are openly questioning the motivation behind
this action." ENDS
Sinn Féin: Peter Hain Would Be Better Showing Political Leadership Rather Than Writing Letters To Papers
/noticias.info/ Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Michelle Gildernew has said that Peter Hain would be better
off joining with the Irish government and asserting their
control over the political process rather than writing
pleading letters to the DUP in this mornings Newsletter.
Ms Gildernew said:
"Many people will view this mornings open letter to
unionism from Peter Hain as a pretty pointless exercise.
Peter Hain is in a position of political leadership. It is
up to the two governments to get a grip on this process and
begin to drive it forward. Pandering to the DUP agenda has
failed. The stagnation of the past 12 months and more is
evidence of that.
"Instead of making it clear to the DUP that the only basis
upon which we can move forward is that set out in the Good
Friday Agreement, Peter Hain chooses instead to write a
pleading letter to a local unionist newspaper. That is not
the sort of political leadership which is required to make
progress in the short time left before the governments own
deadline of November 24th.
"Sinn Féin remain committed to making progress in the time
available. Yet up until this point we are met with
continual stalling from the DUP and continuing pandering to
this position by both governments. The DUP remain the only
political party which is refusing to re-enter the political
institutions. They alone remain the blockage to progress
being achieved. Instead of writing letters to local papers
Peter Hain would be better concentrating on driving forward
the political process regardless of the rejectionist
tactics currently being adopted by the DUP and delivering
on the opportunities created by the IRA initiative of 12
It's Time For Reality
The future governance of Northern Ireland will be decided
in the autumn, during another intensive talks' process. The
British and Irish governments have set what they insist is
a final deadline of November 24 for a devolved government
to be formed.
If a devolution deal cannot be done, local politicians and
local people will remain without a direct say in the
running of the Province – possibly for many years to come.
Up against the clock, the Government is urging the DUP to
enter a power-sharing executive with . The DUP,
however, is holding out for republicans to truly end links
with paramilitarism and crime and support the police and
In the News Letter today, Secretary of State Peter Hain has
taken the unusual step of penning an open letter to
unionism. He claims to understand unionists concerns and
suspicions. But he also believes republicanism has
transformed itself and joined the body politic in a way
which is irreversible.
His fear is that unionism will fail to recognise this until
it is too late and the consequences for Ulster will be
From Peter Hain MP, Secretary of State for Northern
Unionism has every right to be confident: confident in its
place in the United Kingdom with the principle of consent
secured by the Agreement, confident in its culture and
confident in its politics and its politicians.
It also needs to be smart.
In politics, as elsewhere, timing is all.
November is the time for unionism to seize the initiative
and it will get so much more by engaging and mainstreaming
all parties in accountable, democratic politics in the
Assembly and the Executive than it will by staying on the
sidelines denying itself its rightful role in the
Government of Northern Ireland.
And crucially it will get its hands on the levers of power.
I accept that in the past we were over-optimistic about the
pace of transition within the movement and that
led to understandable suspicion on the part of unionists.
That is why we set up the Independent Monitoring
It is the IMC that tells us that the IRA is living up to
its commitments: just read the last Report with an open
Unionism wants to see more movement.
But the real danger for unionism is if what was seen in the
past to be justifiable concern and suspicion becomes a
paralysing refusal to accept that their opponents are
capable of change and are part of the body politic.
There will be a real problem for unionism if the IMC
reports in October that the IRA has done what it said it
following on from the quietest parades season since the
1960s and where is seen to be co-operating more
with the police at street level and still there is no
And the consequences of failure by 24 November will be
I am often told that unionism does not respond to threats.
Neither do I.
But unionism should recognise political reality.
As the Prime Minster said in Armagh in April, having worked
with the Irish government and with the parties for nearly
10 years on this, there will be nothing more that the
governments can do.
And the political focus in the Republic will switch
elsewhere at the turn of the year.
Devolution will go into deep freeze and, frankly, I cannot
see the circumstances in which it will be revived in the
There will be no joint authority with the Irish government
but north/south and east/west co-operation will deepen.
Direct Rule will continue.
MLAs will lose their place as representatives of the people
and while Ministers will, of course, continue to deal with
MPs on constituency matters, the democratic deficit will be
The real loss will not be the salaries and allowances.
It will be the loss of a generation of
local politicians who will be seen by the public to have
I will continue to implement the reform agenda because it
is the right way to take Northern Ireland forward.
There is general agreement that issues on the economy,
education, infrastructure and administration need to be
I want them to be addressed by those with a local mandate
and they can be.
The next few months will involve difficult decisions for
It will mean engaging with people with whom most unionists
would rather not.
But, as the summer has shown, we are genuinely in a
The prize is that local politicians will be able to decide
local matters whether it is on education or rural planning
or industrial de-rating or a host of other issues I
currently have to deal with.
The future of Northern Ireland will be in local hands and
that is as it should be.
Establishing locally accountable, democratic structures of
government is not about what I want, or Tony Blair wants or
Bertie Ahern wants.
It is about giving the people of Northern Ireland what they
want and what they deserve.
And if this opportunity is taken, unionism's confidence in
its politicians will be well rewarded.
31 July 2006
Brady Says Mixed Education Would Be A 'New Hurt'
Ruadhán Mac Cormaic
Any move to curtail the right of Catholics to be educated
in denominational schools would be "a new form of
colonialisation" and create "a new injury, a new hurt",
Archbishop of Armagh Seán Brady has said.
Asked during an interview yesterday on BBC World television
if Catholic and Protestant children should not be educated
together, Dr Seán Brady delivered a robust defence of
He said there was no certainty that non-denominational
education would eliminate tensions among the communities.
In the Balkans, he said, all communities had been educated
together. "It didn't help them from fighting each other."
Dr Brady said it would be a "grave injury" to Catholic
people to be prevented from attending Catholic schools.
"We had schools, and now they are being taken away from
us," he added.
Asked if he was putting the narrow interests of the
Catholic Church ahead of the broader interests of
reconciliation, he insisted that Catholic schools were "not
narrow and not exclusive".
"We know that as educators we have huge responsibilities
and reconciliation is one of them," Dr Brady said.
"Our schools have played and will continue to play [ their
part] in reconciliation here, by producing people who are
tolerant . . . and taught values such as 'treat others as
you would like them to treat you'."
Dr Brady reiterated his disapproval of the concelebration
of an Easter Sunday Mass by a Church of Ireland minister
and three Catholic priests at the Augustinian priory in
Drogheda last April.
"There are many initiatives which are authorised and which
are very successful in promoting unity," he said.
"I know it was well-intentioned, but it caused a lot of
While he accepted that not enough progress had been made in
reconciling the churches, he believed a lot important
strides had been made in recent years to forge better
relations between the churches.
During the Troubles, all churches had played "an important
part in restraining people" from the two communities, Dr
"Ecumenism is the search for the unity which Christ
desires," he said, but unity would not be easily arrived
"Let's not forget history . . . It's going to take time."
He did not accept that the church's response to sex abuse
scandals had been "totally inadequate" and insisted that it
had invested a lot of effort in the issue in recent years.
"[ Now] we want to work together to make sure children are
safe," he said.
© The Irish Times
Bloody Sunday Inquiry Delay
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry findings could be hit by a new
With the inquiry into the killing of 14 people by
Paratroopers in Derry in January 1972 not expected to
deliver its report until next year, an MP expressed outrage
at the costs, which have already reached £172 million.
Democratic Unionist representative Gregory Campbell said:
"I would have thought there was a need to complete this
"It`s by far and away the most expensive public inquiry in
British legal history."
But victims` relatives insisted no price should be put on
their search for the truth, despite deepening frustrations
as they wait for tribunal chairman Lord Saville to deliver
The mammoth investigation into the shootings during a civil
rights march has been surrounded by uncertainty since it
finished taking evidence from more than 900 witnesses in
Lord Saville was originally expected to publish his report
In August, however, it was announced that no new completion
date could be given.
The families of those who died have since said they were
warned by the Irish Government not to expect any release
until sometime next year.
And Mr Campbell today confirmed his sources backed this
"I have been informed that there will be a further delay in
publication," he said.
"There will be anger among many people as this means
further expenditure on an inquiry that`s not going to solve
The East MP also claimed the tribunal, which first opened
in April 1998, lost credibility by ignoring the context in
which the Army opened fire.
Troops went into the city`s Bogside on the back of
escalating IRA violence and just days after two policemen
were shot dead, he added.
But John Kelly, whose brother Michael, 17, died on Bloody
Sunday, stressed the families were prepared to wait as long
as it took to get answers.
"We are in a situation of trying to be patient, although
there`s a lot of frustration," he said.
"But it`s been 34 and a half years, so what`s another few
Mr Kelly also hit back at the "waste of money" allegations
by claiming that if the original inquiry, chaired by Lord
Widgery and held soon after the shootings, had not been
such a whitewash there would have been no need for the
He added: "You can`t put a price on the truth.
"You can`t put a price on justice and you can`t put a price
on the cost of human life.
"The cost of the inquiry is immaterial to me. Whatever it
costs it costs."
A spokeswoman for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry could not say
when the findings would emerge.
She said: "It`s not possible to give an estimate of when
the report is likely to be finished."
Sinn Féin: Gerry Extends Condolences After The Death Of Sean Keenan
/noticias.info/ Sinn Féin President Gerry today
expressed his deep sadness at the death of his friend and
former Belfast Councillor Sean Keenan. Sean died
this mroning after a long battle with cancer.
"Sean Keenan came from a prominent family in
Derry City. His father, also Sean, was a renowned
activist in the city. He had the distinction of
having spent 15 years in prison as an internee in the 30's,
the 40's, the 50's and the 1970's. Sean senior was also a
widely respected leader of the civil rights movement in the
1960's and was Chair of the Derry Citizens Defence
"Sean's mother Nancy was equally well known, a member of
Cumann na mBan who had been interned in the early 1940's.
His brother Colm was shot dead by the British in 1972.
"Sean was a activist in Derry before moving to
Belfast. He was elected to Belfast City Council in 1985. He
was a gifted elected representative and worked hard and
diligently on behalf of the people of West Belfast. He was
particularly active around the housing issue and played a
key role in the various housing campaigns which succeeded
in achieving the demolition of Unity Flats, Divis Flats,
Moyard, Turf Lodge and Springhill. Thousands of people live
today in better housing because of Sean's conscientious
efforts on their behalf.
"Sean was also a political activist and representative who
was targeted many times by death squads and the
RUC and British Army. In 1984 he was travelling with me in
Belfast City Centre when a gang attacked us. Sean
was very seriously wounded. Several years later Sean's home
was attacked and he was shot again.
"Throughout it all and including his long battle against
cancer Sean never lost his sense of humour or his
commitment and dedication to republicanism.
"It was through the efforts of Sean and the other Sinn Féin
Councillors elected in the 1980's and 90's that much of the
bigotry and sectarianism in Belfast City Hall was
"It was with great sadness that I heard the news this
morning that Sean had passed away.
"I would extend my deepest condolences and those of
republicans throughout Belfast and beyond to Sean's partner
Una and her family, his three children Colm, Nuala and
Cillian and their mother Marian. I measc laochra na nGael a
Former SF Councillor Dies
A former councillor wounded along with Gerry
in a gun attack on their car in Belfast city
centre 22 years ago has died after a battle with cancer.
Mr led tributes to Sean Keenan, who came from a
prominent Irish family in Derry.
Mr Keenan, a former housing spokesman for the party, served
as a councillor in west Belfast during the 1980s.
In 1984, he was injured when an Ulster Defence Association
gang opened fire on president Gerry ` car
after it left Belfast Magistrates Court where they had been
appearing on a public order charge along with fellow
The gang which launched the attack included John Gregg who
later became the `s South Antrim brigadier.
He was gunned down in Belfast`s docks area in 2003 - as he
returned from a Glasgow Rangers match - during an internal
feud with supporters of prominent Johnny
Mr was hit five times during the 1984 attack, his
driver Kevin Rooney sustained injuries and Sean Keenan was
struck in the face and arm.
Mr Murray escaped unharmed.
A year later Mr Keenan was elected to Belfast City Council.
Mr described him today as a gifted elected
representative who worked hard for the people of west
"He was particularly active around the housing issue and
played a key role in the various housing campaigns which
succeeded in achieving the demolition of Unity Flats, Divis
Flats, Moyard, Turf Lodge and Springhill," he said.
"Thousands of people live today in better housing because
of Sean`s conscientious efforts on their behalf."
Mr recalled in addition to surviving the city centre
attack, Mr Keenan survived another attempt on his life in
The West Belfast MP recalled: "Throughout it all and
including his long battle against cancer Sean never lost
his sense of humour or his commitment and dedication to
"It was through the efforts of Sean and the other
councillors elected in the 1980s and 90s that much of the
bigotry and sectarianism in Belfast City Hall was
"It was with great sadness that I heard the news this
morning that Sean had passed away.
"I would extend my deepest condolences and those of
republicans throughout Belfast and beyond to Sean`s partner
Una and her family, his three children Colm, Nuala and
Cillian and their mother Marian."
Former Belfast Lord Mayor Alex Maskey described Mr Keenan
as a deeply committed who braved personal risks
to represent the party.
"I spent many hours over recent weeks with Sean and his
family and he faced his illness with typical courage and
fortitude," the South Belfast Assembly member said.
"Sean Keenan will be remembered with great pride and
fondness by the people of Belfast and in particular by the
people of West Belfast who elected him as one the first
councillors to the City Hall.
"Republicans will remember him as a friend, comrade and
activist and I would wish to offer my condolences to Sean`s
family at this sad time."
New Feud Rips Apart The
Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday July 30, 2006
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 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 in
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
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 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 brigades
are involved in racketeering.
Man Questioned Over Weapons Find
A man is being questioned about a weapons seizure linked to
paramilitary tensions in Belfast.
He was arrested by police after guns, ammunition and petrol
bombs were discovered during a series of searches in the
north of the city. Another man has already been charged.
Officers moved in on Friday night as a stand-off developed
between the Ulster Defence Association ( ) and supporters
of its ousted bosses, Andre and Ihab Shoukri.
Shots were also reported to have been fired during the
trouble in the Tynedale area.
Even though a new leadership has been installed by the
in north Belfast, a core loyal to the Shoukri brothers -
both currently remanded in jail on a series of charges -
have been threatening to provoke a new internal feud.
After claiming homes had been attacked in the
Ballysillan and Tigers Bay districts, the staged a mass
show of strength on Saturday night.
Up to 800 men were mobilised for a rally at which the
outlawed grouping vowed not to let criminals destroy its
A statement from the `s so-called inner council said:
"The organisation will not stand by and allow its community
and its members to be attacked after 35 years of conflict
with the Provisional IRA and republicans.
"We have fought the IRA, the RUC and our own army. If need
be, we will fight drug dealers.
"We believe that it`s the duty of the PSNI to influence law
and order so we can all live in peace and safety."
Killer 'Must Get Tough Sentence'
The man convicted of murdering County Tyrone woman Attracta
Harron should receive the toughest possible sentence, a
court has been told.
Trevor Hamilton, 23, will be sentenced on Friday for
killing the retired librarian in 2003.
A prosecutor said Hamilton, of Concess Road, Sion Mills,
subjected her to extreme violence and showed no remorse.
The defence said his age should be taken into account when
sentenced. The maximum term is life without remission.
Mrs Harron, 55, from Strabane, vanished while walking home
from Mass in December 2003.
The body of the mother of five was found four months later
in a makeshift grave dug into the side of a riverbank
bordering Mr Hamilton's home. She had been battered to
Hamilton was found guilty of murdering the pensioner less
than four months after completing a rape sentence.
Dungannon Crown Court heard from the prosecution that
Hamilton went out in a "pre-meditated" way, looking for a
The prosecution said he picked Mrs Harron because she was
walking on her own, and added Hamilton "deceived and
enticed" the devout Catholic into the car where she was "at
She was subjected to "extreme violence and terror" which
resulted in her death, the court heard.
She was killed with an axe or a hatchet.
Her body was so badly decomposed it was impossible to
establish if she had been sexually assaulted, but the
prosecution said considering his previous convictions which
included rape, no other conclusion could be reached.
Hamilton who appeared in court on Monday flanked by two
officers expressed no emotion.
Mrs Harron's husband and other family members were also in
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/31 14:34:28 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Government 'Letting Developers Dictate Housing Market'
31/07/2006 - 18:46:44
The Government was today accused of letting developers
dictate the housing market as one of the country’s largest
banks warned the average cost of a home will hit €400,000
Opposition TDs said developers, investors and banks were
pricing young people out of the market.
Labour Party chief whip Emmet Stagg accused bankers of
being out of touch with the realities being experienced by
many young families.
“It is difficult to understand how inflation in the housing
sector could be running at three times the rate of
inflation generally and it suggests that there may be an
unacceptable level of profiteering going on in some
sections of the construction industry,” he said.
“The reality is that affordability has long ago become a
problem for many buyers, with even couples with two good
incomes being pushed to the pin of the collars to find a
home they can afford.”
Sean Crowe, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin south-west, backed that
view and questioned who controlled the sector.
“It is clearer than ever that housing policy in this state
is no longer in the hands of the Government, but is
controlled by developers, property speculators and the
banks,” he said.
Mr Crowe said it was vindication of his party’s policy to
bring in capital gains tax at a rate of 40% for second
homes. And he accused contractors of failing to meet their
commitments to supply 20% social and affordable housing on
each new development they build.
“This shows who is driving housing policy in Ireland. It is
not driven by need, nor the requirements of the almost
44,000 families on the housing waiting list,” he said.
“It is driven by the interests of the inhabitants of the
(Fianna Fáil) tent at the Galway races this week.”
Bank of Ireland’s Irish Property Review, a quarterly
analysis of the market, predicted 2006 will set new records
in terms of house prices, completions and mortgage lending.
Higher interest rates look like the only way the market
will cool, the review noted, and anyone looking for a slump
will be forced to wait until 2007 before there is any sign
of a slow-down.
Dr Dan McLaughlin, group chief economist with Bank of
Ireland, said: “Prices have certainly risen at a surprising
pace of late, particularly as the market appeared to be
stabilising twelve months ago.
“Price inflation re-accelerated towards the end of last
year and in 2006. On that basis, our previous forecast of a
9% price rise this year is too low and we are revising that
up to 12%.
“This would put the price of an average house nationally at
around €395,000, from €352,000 at end-2006, with Dublin
prices at €532,000.”
By Debbie Watters
31 July 2006
Alternatives, a community-based restorative justice
programme which has been working for the past nine years to
stop young people being beaten and shot by
paramilitaries, is facing closure.
This is because the Government has introduced a funding
embargo until we sign up to a set of guidelines which are
allegedly designed to regulate and formulise a relationship
between organisations such as ours and the formal criminal
Alternatives has never had any problem with guidelines but,
in the past, these have not been implemented because
Community Restorative Justice Ireland, which operates
within the nationalist community, has refused to work with
In essence, has been handed a veto by the
Government over the issue of restorative justice in
Northern Ireland: no one receives financial support until
signs up to policing. Whatever that means.
The consequence is that power has been taken out of the
hands of groups like my own, operating within the
Protestant community, and we are expected to wait on
someone else's political agenda.
So, this begs the question: how can the Government justify
their recent £3m pledge to whitewash murals, while
refusing to fund a group that is stopping children and
young people from being beaten, shot or expelled from their
Furthermore, in light of the Government's strategy for the
communities in which Alternatives works - north and east
Belfast, the Shankill and Bangor - I have to ask just how
committed politicians are to tackling the real issue of
Certainly, my organisation, which has been working
tirelessly for nearly a decade, not only to stop bones from
being broken, but to change mindsets and attitudes, feels
that their commitment is minimal.
This is because, despite the public outcry by police,
government bureaucrats and others, and the political
mileage gained as a result of this issue, no one has been
willing or able to take the risk to stop the brutalisation
of youngsters in Protestant communities.
Alternatives formally opened its doors in 1998 to work
intensively with young people involved in anti-social
activities in order to help them change their behaviour. We
also support their victims and contribute to building the
capacity of local communities.
Many of the young people have met face-to-face with their
victims, apologised for the hurt they have caused and have
made restitution. A lot of them have also subsequently
become involved in volunteer work and other positive
initiatives in their areas.
From the beginning, this work has been carried out in
partnership with the police, the Probation service, social
services and the Housing Executive, with all of these
agencies represented on the management committees of
Since our inception, we have been rigorously evaluated and
audited in terms of meeting objectives, levels of
professionalism and financial management and controls. In
other words, we have maintained high standards at all
But, instead of acknowledging how this ground-breaking work
is contributing to changing local communities, the
Government's disappointing and unjust response to
Alternatives has been the introduction of a funding embargo
until we sign up to a continually stalled set of guidelines
that we have been requesting for the past eight years.
We have previously agreed two sets of guidelines with
statutory agencies and the police, both in 1999 and in
2001, but these were never implemented, having been
withdrawn by the Northern Ireland Office.
Clearly, the Government is refusing to fund a perfectly
legitimate community organisation that ticks all the boxes
and meets all the criteria because Community Restorative
Justice Ireland will not work with the PSNI.
Ridiculous as it may seem, even the DUP appears to have a
conflicting stance on restorative justice - while DUP
politicians on the ground have publicly endorsed the work
of Alternatives, Sammy Wilson MP recently made disparaging
remarks about us in a House of Commons debate on policing.
The time has come for Government and politicians to
recognise the achievements of Alternatives, and the
positive contribution we make in transforming and renewing
We are not an alternative to the policing service or the
criminal justice system, and we will continue to do our
utmost to help build confidence between the formal criminal
justice system and the community.
The responsibility for change now rests with the
We demand that the Government treats us on our own merits
and removes the barriers to funding.
The reality is that while these political games are being
played, local communities and young people continue to
And while some politicians continue to use restorative
justice as a point scoring exercise, violence continues on
Local communities are crying out for alternatives to
violence and are appalled at the possible closure of
Alternatives. Listen to their voices. It will take more
than paint to transform their communities.
Case study A
A youth, threatened on numerous occasions by paramilitaries
because of anti-social behaviour, was identified as at risk
and referred to Alternatives. He was assigned a support
worker who agreed a contract with him.
Among other things, the youth had damaged a pensioner's
property and his schooling was seriously disrupted.
Through the mediation of Alternatives, he met the pensioner
and wrote him an apology. The pensioner began telling him
stories about his childhood, about his life in the Army and
being interned in 1973.
This gave the Troubles a human face and on a visit to the
Ulster Museum the youth became fascinated by an exhibition
about the Troubles.
A friendship developed as the youth shared the pensioner's
stories and ran errands for him. He tidied up the garden -
and was rewarded with friendship and bottles of Coke.
Schooling was difficult, but his dedicated support worker
helped with his studies and even sat alongside him in
school. Although he has never got to like school and is
easily bored, he has shown artistic and creative talent.
Alternatives helped him become involved in other activities
and the Fire Service was particularly helpful. He has many
more hills to climb, but his future now looks much more
Case study B
A young woman who is ill and living on her own was caught
up in a dispute between neighbours that involved
paramilitaries. The windows of her home were smashed with
devastating effects. Police were called, but only arrived
an hour later and seemed unable to do much.
The woman went to Alternatives, who arranged mediation with
the paramilitaries so that the windows were replaced. She
learned much from her experience, remains involved in the
organisation and has completed courses through
Case study C
A teenager was caught up in stealing and rioting before
being referred by paramilitaries to Alternatives. He was
prepared to meet his victims but they didn't wish this and
instead he wrote letters of apology. These were greatly
appreciated and he made a contract to visit Alternatives
every other day. He did voluntary work for local pensioners
and a disabled neighbour and has developed a better
relationship with his mum. He took part in various courses
and has found employment and housing.
Without Alternatives he faced brutal punishment beatings.
Case study D
A mother reports that her family has been literally
transformed through Alternatives. Her husband had been
abusive and she and her three children faced serious
difficulties. The abuse became so bad she found herself in
a hostel which she described as "the end of the line".
Things looked very black when she heard about Alternatives,
who provided her with ongoing support and counselling. Her
family's life has been turned completely around. She has
found childcare, taken up studying and gained
qualifications. She now has a job she loves, her children
are making good progress in school and relationships have
The family do things together and now "know what normal
life is about"
Case study E
Another woman's daughter was severely beaten and abused by
school mates. The effects were traumatic. The girl lost
weight, couldn't sleep or eat or go out. The family
literally "went through hell" with seemingly no one to turn
to. The police could do little but, thanks to Alternatives,
progress is being made and her daughter is taking small
steps to recovery. The girl has obtained excellent school
reports and sporting achievements, although full recovery
remains a long term process. She sets herself daily tasks
and gets great satisfaction with each successful step she
Opin: A War Crime Is Still A War Crime
August 01, 2006 12:00am
SIMPLISTIC one-liners, such as, "Israel has a right to
self-defence", or "help Israel fight terrorism", do not fit
Israel destroys Lebanon from the air by bombing housing
estates, a convoy of ambulances, United Nations
peacekeepers, bridges and roads, milk and paper factories.
The best of spin doctors would be hard put to justify these
as military targets.
Nobody believes this is "collateral damage" or part of the
"war on terror".
It is a war by terror, a shocking obscenity and illegal
under international law.
This is state terror. Yet, Israel's war on Lebanon is
legitimate self-defence according to the Australian
Government, which uncritically supports Israel's actions.
When Hezbollah sends rockets into Israel that is
But when Israel contravenes international law, it is not.
This is a terrible double standard from Alexander Downer.
A war crime is a war crime no matter who commits it.
The targeting and collective punishment of civilians and
their homes, by both sides, war crimes.
So why does Downer excuse one side and condemn the other?
The reality is that the US and its allies are embroiled in
the same vicious circle of violence in which Israel has
This in the killing of civilians in Iraq, Bali, London,
Afghanistan, and now Haifa and Tyre.
When I look at Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, I wonder: does
the West care about the slaughter of innocent Arabs, or is
this racism that says some lives are worth more than
Perhaps, the "War on Terror" is a racist war.
The death toll of civilians on each side certainly points
The war launched by Israel was originally justified on the
grounds that there were three Israeli prisoners it had the
right to retrieve.
But there are also more than 9500 Palestinian and Lebanese
prisoners held in Israel's jails.
Some of them have been there for decades, most without
charge or trial.
Democratically elected Palestinian MPs have been kidnapped
by Israel. Would the world accept the kidnapping of Sinn
Fein members for the actions of the IRA?
If Israel can go to war to free its prisoners, is Alexander
Downer saying the Palestinians and the Lebanese have the
right to attack Israel in order to free these 9500
prisoners, or is there one rule for Israel and one rule for
This is the cycle of violence we should be condemning.
To understand the deep-seated issues that lead the Middle
East to war, time and again, we need to discard the double
standards and the disregard for Arab lives and start an
One welcome voice has been that of former deputy prime
minister Tim Fischer.
In his own words, Fischer is "calling a spade a spade".
He points to Israel's consistent record of illegal and
disproportionate use of force, citing the example of the
1994 massacre of 104 civilians sheltering in a UN Compound
in south Lebanon.
And he is critical of Australian foreign policy because
this "war is going to embed the hatred for the next 20
Mr Fischer's words and anger last week were prophetic.
This week, in the same town of Qana, Israel massacred more
than 60 civilians, 37 of them children.
Few will doubt Mr Fischer's loyalty or courage as a former
military serviceman or parliamentarian, nor that he might
have somehow been cajoling or supporting terrorists.
He was very clear that Israel has a right to exist and
should be free from attack, but he was also very quick to
say "Palestinians also have a right to statehood", which is
the forgotten issue at the very heart of Middle-East
The Palestinians do not occupy Israeli land. Israel
occupies Palestinian land.
The Palestinians are denied their state and the military
capacity to defend their rights, While Israel is armed to
In the past 30 years, Israel has received more than $140
billion in military and other aid from the US. The reality
is that Israel's occupation came decades before Muslim
extremism, suicide bombings or al-Qaida.
Are we genuinely committed to the rule of international
law, the international declaration of human rights and
If we are, then we have well-established objectives and a
legal framework to deal with the current issues.
The law and its expectations and principles should be
applied equally and nobody should be above the law --
neither Arab nor Israeli.
The failure to resolve the Middle-East conflicts and
particular the Palestinian issue feeds those, who do not
want democratic societies and the rule of law, but instead
endless war, crusades of one kind or another with "God on
The commitment we need to find in Australia is to the
principles of democracy, the rule of international law and
human-rights frameworks. Can our Government find that
TAIMOR HAZOU is deputy chair of the Australian Arabic
Bank Warns Of Private Sector Indebtedness
Laura Slattery and Gabrielle Monaghan
Private sector borrowing is rising at the fastest rate in
over six years, the Central Bank said yesterday, despite
repeated calls for moderation.
The annual growth rate in private sector credit hit 30.3
per cent in June, up from 29.8 per cent in May, and the
strongest increase since March 2000.
The figures were released as the bank warned in its
quarterly bulletin that accelerating house prices and
rapidly rising levels of indebtedness were heightening the
vulnerability of the economy to interest rate increases and
escalating oil prices.
While growth prospects remain positive, the economy is
still exposed to external shocks, the bank said.
Separate data published yesterday showed that the property
market continues to surge, with Permanent TSB and the ESRI
reporting that prices at the end of June were 15.2 per cent
ahead of the levels a year earlier.
And Bank of Ireland chief economist Dr Dan McLaughlin
warned that the boom would see the price of the average
home in the capital topping half a million euro by the end
of the year.
The bank yesterday predicted the market would expand 12 per
cent in 2006. This would put the average nationwide price
of a house at about €395,000 and push Dublin prices to an
average of €532,000, Bank of Ireland said. At the end of
2005, national house prices were €350,000 and prices in the
capital averaged €475,000.
Three increases in interest rates in recent months have yet
to impact on the rising trend of Irish house prices. The
European Central Bank is widely expected to raise rates by
another quarter percentage point on Thursday. This will add
a further €34 to the monthly repayments of home-owners,
with the cost of a typical mortgage of €250,000 over 25
years set to rise to €1,333.
Borrowers on a typical tracker rate of 3.85 per cent have
already seen €100 added to monthly mortgage costs as
interest rates rose by three-quarters of a percentage point
Recent strong growth in residential mortgage lending
continued in June, although the annual growth rate eased
slightly, falling to 29.1 per cent in June, down from 29.5
per cent in May.
For the second month in a row, however, non-mortgage credit
had a higher annual growth rate than mortgage credit,
rising to 32.6 per cent in June, up from 29.7 per cent in
Private sector credit has now increased by an average of €5
billion each month during the first half of 2006. The June
increase was €5.8 billion, bringing private sector
borrowings to €289 billion.
Term loans rose by €4 billion in June, the largest increase
in a year while outstanding credit card debt was 18 per
cent higher than a year earlier.
IIB chief economist Austin Hughes said credit card debt,
though small in the context of overall borrowing, was worth
watching for any indication of emerging financial
difficulties for consumers.
© The Irish Times
July 'Warmest Month For 17 Years'
31/07/2006 - 18:55:46
July was the warmest month in most parts of Ireland for
around 17 years, Met Éireann revealed today.
Record high temperatures were set at three stations:
Clones, Co Cavan, Baldonnel, west Dublin and Belmullet on
the west coast of Co Mayo.
The warmest day of the year so far was July 19 at Casement
Aerodrome, Baldonnel, which recorded a high of 31C, the
highest ever at the station since records began there in
But despite the blistering heatwave, the record of 33.3C
set at Kilkenny Castle in June 1887 remains intact.
Peter Lennon, from Met Éireann’s climate division, said the
whole country experienced very high daily temperatures and
some of the warmest weather for over a decade.
“July was the warmest month in most stations for around 11
to 17 years and the warmest on record in Clones and
Belmullet – and their records go back around 50 years,” he
Mr Lennon said according to figures recorded to date, July
was the sunniest month at most stations for 16-17 years.
Rainfall in most parts of the country was very low and
continued the dry conditions experienced during June.
Between July 9-27 there was no measurable rainfall recorded
in the east and south, Met Éireann said.
In Dublin during June and July only 30% of normal rainfall
Tornado Damages Homes, Cars
Michael Parsons in Glengoole, Co Tipperary
A tornado that struck Co Tipperary in the early hours of
yesterday caused no injuries but damaged at least three
houses, destroyed two cars and left a newly married couple
temporarily homeless. A number of trees were also damaged.
The freak storm occurred between the villages of Glengoole
(New Birmingham) and Ballysloe, creating what Met Éireann
spokesman Hugh Daly said appeared to be a "minor tornado".
The State's leading tornado expert, Dr John Tyrrell of
UCC's department of geography, is expected to visit the
area today to begin an investigation.
The eye of the storm hit the townland of Mellison at
2.11am. Gardaí from Thurles were called to the scene and
arrived within minutes.
Jason O'Gorman and his wife Thérèse woke to a "loud
crashing noise which lasted 10 to 15 seconds".
The roof was blown off their house and the wind had "forced
in the window of a front room" where their nine-year-old
daughter Naomi and her cousin Megan (10) were sleeping.
Mr O'Gorman said the strength of the wind had "moved
furniture and trapped the children" and he had to "kick the
door down to rescue them". The family dog, Snoopy, whose
kennel was thrown about the yard, had a lucky escape as he
was sleeping in a garage.
The O'Gormans had just moved into the house after marrying
five weeks ago and were carrying out renovations. Last
night they were forced to move to the home of nearby in-
laws whose house was less extensively damaged. They said
both their cars were "complete write-offs".
Neil O'Donohoe, originally from Sandymount, Dublin, who has
lived in the area for 25 years, said he had "never seen
anything like it".
He described the sound as resembling "an explosion" and
pointed out the damage caused by a 37ft ladder that was
blown on to the roof of his house.
In the village of Ballysloe, Susan Treacy said she heard a
sound like that of an articulated truck spreading through
the village, causing the windows to rattle.
Residents and neighbours, some of whom had worked
throughout the night, spent yesterday cleaning up the storm
damage and putting a temporary cover on the roof of the
O'Gormans' house. Roof tiles were found hundreds of yards
from the scene. A trampoline was discovered 50m from its
Assessors from insurance companies are expected to arrive
in the area this morning.
© The Irish Times
OPW Urged To Publish Skellig Plan
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI) has called
on the Office of Public Works (OPW) to publish its
management plan for Skellig Michael under Unesco world
heritage site requirements.
The OPW recently denied there was any threat to the Unesco
world heritage status of Skellig Michael as a result of
works being carried out under its supervision, but has
conceded that a management plan is not yet in place. A
"formal process" has been initiated, it said, and a
preliminary strategy was prepared as part of the 1996 world
heritage status application.
The IAI has now asked the OPW to "outline and clarify the
context, scope and extent of conservation works being
carried out" on the former monastic island and national
monument off the Kerry coast. This comes several weeks
after Connemara-based archaeologist Michael Gibbons
expressed concern about accidental damage caused to the
island's South Peak oratory or hermitage. Mr Gibbons
contends that such a plan should have been prepared when
Unesco status was awarded 10 years ago.
The structure was built by the island's monks some time
between the 6th and 8th centuries, when they laid out three
separate terraces on the edge of rock some 218m (715ft)
above sea level. An "over-restoration" by the OPW had
resulted in a "reconstruction" of sections of the oratory
rather than conservation, Mr Gibbons said, and had caused
damage to an original altar.
Mr Gibbons said independent evaluation of work, as required
under Unesco guidelines, was critical to prevent over-
restoration of sites. No restoration should be done on
Skellig Michael beyond the "absolute minimum necessary", he
OPW archaeological and architectural staff have described
Mr Gibbons's comments as "ill-informed and unjustified".
In a related development, Des Lavelle, author of a book on
the rock and operator of one of the ferry permits for
Skellig Michael, has criticised the OPW's approach to
managing public access to the island. He said its annual
system of issuing ferry permits lacked a long-term strategy
and suggested it may be "trying to close the island down to
the public bit by bit". According to Mr Lavelle, some 19
annual permits had fallen to 14, and the OPW had no
transfer system in cases where boat operators retired.
Skellig Michael is one of three Irish archaeological sites
with Unesco world heritage status, along with Brú na Bóinne
and the Giant's Causeway.
© The Irish Times
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