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July 20, 2006

Trial Is A Test Case for Irish Language

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 07/20/06 Trial A Test Case For The Irish Language
BB 07/19/06 Man Convicted Of Loyalist Killing
NH 07/20/06 Seven-Minute Argument Enters Extradition Debate
BT 07/20/06 DUP Says No To Special Sub-Committees
IO 07/18/06 Spell Out Plan B On Devolution, Premiers Told
BT 07/20/06 O'Loan In Plea To Be Allowed To Probe MI5
SF 07/20/06 Police Ombudsman Concerned By MI5 Move
IE 07/20/06 T-Shirts Talk At D.C. Immigration Hearings
IT 07/20/06 FF Councillor Denies Bribe Claim
UT 07/19/06 McCartney Sister's Warning On CRJ
BT 07/20/06 Opin: What Kind Of Justice Is This, Mr Hain?
RT 07/19/06 Runaway Circus Kangaroo On The Loose In Ireland
HC 07/19/06 Ireland's Population Rises To Modern High
VV 07/19/06 Synge, Synge, Synge

(Poster’s Note: Sorry for delayed posting of news. Been having
Internet problems. Jay)


Trial A Test Case For The Irish Language

By Dominic Cunningham
20 July 2006

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun last night called for
legislation to allow court cases in Northern Ireland to be
conducted in Irish.

She was speaking after 24-year old Maire Nic an Bhaird,
from Woodside Walk, Dunmurry, on the outskirts of Belfast,
had a charge of disorderly behaviour adjourned at the
city's Magistrates Court until September 6.

Ms Nic an Bhaird, a drama teacher at Colaiste Feirste, west
Belfast, denies committing the offence in May on Belfast's
Malone Road.

The case is being seen as a test case by some in the Irish
language community.

"Considering the European Charter, the Good Friday
Agreement and the Criminal Justice Review, she should now
be able to get her papers from the Prosecution Service in
the Irish language," Ms de Brun said.

As Irish language activists picketed the Laganside court
complex, she said her former pupil should also be able to
use Irish in the actual court proceedings.

"This young woman has spoken Irish all her life and has
gone through her entire schooling through the medium of

"While I would obviously prefer that she didn't find
herself before the courts, a main concern for the Irish
language community is that all the proceedings should now
be in Irish," she said.

"In particular, it is imperative that the Prosecution
Service provide the relevant papers in Irish and she
herself be able to address the court in Irish," Ms de Brun,
a former Stormont Executive Minister, added.

Solicitor Michael Crawford said Ms Nic an Bhaird was a
native Irish speaker and her whole environment was Irish.

Mr Crawford said that as all legal proceedings had been
conducted in Irish, he had written to the Public
Prosecution Service requesting that all papers in the case
should be in Irish also.

Resident Magistrate Fiona Bagnall adjourned the case for
three weeks to allow the defence to make written
submissions in support of their application and to
facilitate a response from the Director of Public

Ms Nic an Bhaird was released on continuing bail.


Man Convicted Of Loyalist Killing

An ex-soldier has been convicted at the High Court in
Glasgow of killing a former loyalist gun-runner.

Lindsay Robb was knifed 22 times by Brian Tollett on
Hogmanay in Ruchazie and died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary
after one wound pierced his heart.

Tollet, 29, denied murder and claimed he acted in self-
defence. He was found guilty after a six-day trial of the
reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Judge Lord Brailsford deferred sentence for background

The attack in Gartloch Road was witnessed by people at
nearby shops, including a 10-year-old boy.

'Brutal and savage'

The boy told the court two men were fighting on the ground.

He saw Mr Robb had been stabbed in the leg and the heart
because there was blood dripping from his leg and a hole in
his T-shirt.

Another witness told the court that Tollett claimed he was
asked to "sort out" Mr Robb over an alleged debt he owed to
another man and had demonstrated how he killed him.

Tollett, a former soldier in the 1st Battalion the Royal
Fusiliers, claimed he acted in self defence.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice said to Tollett: "This was
not self defence. This was a brutal and savage attack by

Former Ulster Volunteer Force and Loyalist Volunteer Force
member Mr Robb, 38, was released from prison in Northern
Ireland in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement and moved to Airdrie.

He had been convicted in 1995 for his part in a loyalist
gun-running operation.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/07/19 16:06:47 GMT


Seven-Minute Argument Enters Extradition Debate

(Ray O'Hanlon, Irish News)

A good athlete can easily cover a mile in seven minutes,
indeed the better part of two.

But if you are arguing against an extradition treaty
between nations that consider themselves the closest of
friends you would need to talk a mile-a-minute to make your
case in a mere seven.

But that is the task that Professor Francis Boyle of the
University of Illinois is facing on Friday in a Senate
hearing room on Capitol Hill.

The Senate foreign relations committee is holding a hearing
aimed at finally ratifying a three-year-old revised
extradition treaty between Washington and London.

Boyle is the sole among a long line of Irish-American
objectors being permitted to speak.

He is not happy.

Boyle is disgruntled by the fact that he alone is being
given a chance to air Irish-American concerns. And he
thinks seven minutes falls way short of the time needed to
convey those concerns to the members of a committee chaired
by Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, a man who has
established his solid political reputation on a career
firmly focused on America's relations with other nations.

Irish-America is not a nation. But it has its interests
both national and trans-national.

And Irish-America is keenly interested in anything
involving deportation and extradition where the British
government enters the picture.

The treaty was signed in March 2003 by then US attorney
general John Ashcroft and the British home secretary at the
time, David Blunkett.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ashcroft made no
specific reference to any conflict, group or country.

However, Irish-American activist groups immediately saw
Northern Ireland between the treaty's lines.

An extradition treaty is the purview of the US Senate.
Ordinarily it must pass under the eyes of the foreign
relations committee before coming up for a vote in the full
100-member chamber. This looked like it was going to happen
last November.

But against a backdrop of mounting criticism from Irish-
American organisations, including the Ancient Order of
Hibernians (AOH), the foreign relations committee declined
to vote on the revised treaty at the end of a hearing.

The delay was welcomed by the AOH as well as Boyle and
other Irish-American groups. The revised treaty, said then
AOH national president Ned McGinley was "loaded up with
Patriot Act-type of language" that was "being used to
frighten people".

The US and UK had no problem extraditing people under the
existing treaty, McGinley asserted.

Among concerns voiced by the Hibernians and others have
been that the revised treaty eliminates the existing
political offence exception; transfers responsibility for
determining whether the extradition request is politically
motivated from the US Courts to the executive branch;
allows for extradition even if there is no violation of US
federal law and applies retroactively for offences
allegedly committed even before the ratification of the

The Hibernians are of the view that no Irish-American
activist is safe if the treaty passes into law.

But of course the treaty's reach would extend well beyond
Irish-America and indeed the most vociferous criticism of
its provisions has been prompted in recent days by the
extradition cases of Britons, most especially the 'NatWest
Three' and accused computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

And rather ironically, the measure has attracted political
criticism in London for its provisions as much as the fact
that the US Senate has, thus far, failed to ratify it.

Irish-Americans are not so much focused on these cases
although Boyle and others viewed the maiden visit to
Washington last week of freshly minted foreign secretary
Margaret Beckett in the context of British efforts to
finally seal the treaty deal.

Beckett was asked about the treaty and the Senate's
laggardness, during a joint press conference with secretary
of state Condoleezza Rice.

Beckett replied that she could "understand and accept" that
it wasn't an American priority.

This of course flies in the face of the importance once
attached to the treaty by John Ashcroft.

It is into this convoluted mix that Francis Boyle will
deliver his seven-minute argument on Friday.

He will be competing for attention with another law
professor who turns out to be currently seconded to Rice's
State Department.

Two other testimonies will be taken from representatives of
the US Justice Department and again the State Department.

Boyle and other Irish-Americans are furious at this set-up.
They point to a promise made by Senator Lugar last November
for a hearing devoted entirely to Irish-American concern.

"We're not getting a hearing. We're getting set-up for a
railroading," Boyle said.


DUP Says No To Special Sub-Committees

By Noel McAdam
20 July 2006

Secretary of State Peter Hain's 'route map' towards a
devolution deal was off course again today after the DUP
refused to take part in special Stormont sub-committees to
tackle key political areas.

DUP leader Ian Paisley told Mr Hain his party will not
participate in the special groups, sub-committees of the
Preparation for Government committee which were to examine
policing and justice; the institutions, including
North/South bodies and the province's economic

It remained unclear today whether the three sub-committees,
due to report back to the main Preparation Committee by
around the third week in August, will now go ahead.

The DUP fears the sub-committees could have become
effective conduits for negotiations and it could have been
out-voted by the pro-Good Friday Agreement parties.

The DUP has particular concerns that the policing and
justice committee could have provided cover for at least an
outline agreement on policing arrangements.

Even before the 14-strong Preparation group finally got
underway, Mr Paisley had insisted it would not be used for
negotiations on a devolution deal.

Alliance leader David Ford urged the Government to pay more
attention to the Preparation for Government committee,
rather than giving the impression it is planning for
failure by the November 24 deadline for a devolution deal.

"The government should be concentrating its efforts on
breaking the political deadlock, instead of planning for
the worst case scenario," he said.

"If they are trying to improve the system, why don't they
take a more practical approach and pay more attention to
the Preparation for Government Committee?"

His comments came as the Government announced future
Northern Ireland legislation will be able to be amended in
Parliament, rather than the current more inflexible Orders
in Council system.


Spell Out Plan B On Devolution, Premiers Told

18/07/2006 - 14:57:05

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair were today urged to spell out
publicly before the November deadline for devolution in the
North what they will do if it is missed.

Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin issued the call after
Northern Secretary Peter Hain warned Assembly members that
he would slash the number of government departments in the
North if they were unwilling to take the decision
themselves in a devolved administration by November 24.

After Mr Hain also gave a taste of how Dublin and London
ministers would enhance cross-border co-operation, Mr
McLaughlin said: “I think it is incumbent on the two
governments to indicate how they would respond if the DUP
continues to refuse to form an executive by the November

“It would be wrong to describe such an event as a failure
to form an executive, because that implies all the other
parties are at fault when it is just the DUP.

“In refusing to meet the deadline, the DUP should do so in
the full knowledge of what the consequences are.

“So yes, I think the governments should make public their
plans in advance of the November deadline.”


O'Loan In Plea To Be Allowed To Probe MI5

Continued access to documents is 'vital'

By Chris Thronton
20 July 2006

MI5 should be legally required to open up its intelligence
for misconduct investigations in Ulster, Police Ombudsman
Nuala O'Loan has told Parliament.

Mrs O'Loan told MPs in her annual report that it is
"vitally important" her office continues to get access to
sensitive information when MI5 takes over anti-terrorist
operations in Northern Ireland next year.

Currently Mrs O'Loan and her investigators can view
national security material while investigating the PSNI.

But when the force hands over anti-terrorist operations to
MI5, the Ombudsman's statutory access to information will

Mrs O'Loan said she has "significant concerns" about what
could happen after the handover. Oversight Commissioner Al
Hutchinson has also expressed concerns about implications
of the transfer, but Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has said
he is satisfied with the process so far.

The Ombudsman's report says she is currently in discussions
with MI5 about a protocol to get access to information, but
she notes the secret agency won't be obliged to help her

She says it would be better if Parliament made it a legal
requirement for MI5 to give her office access to material.

"Where there is a complaint of collusion by the police
(whatever the nature of that alleged collusion) access to
intelligence is essential," she said.

"On occasion it is equally necessary to see whether a crime
could have been prevented.

"It is vitally important that my Office retains an ability
to access relevant information and intelligence matters.

"We are therefore currently in discussion with the Security
Services, who have no obligation to disclose material to
us, attempting to reach a protocol which would facilitate
our access to material held by the Security Service. It
would, of course, be preferable for there to be an
appropriate legislative imperative on the Security Services
to disclose information."

Sources stressed MI5 has not yet refused a request from her

Yesterday's fifth annual Police Ombudsman report also
revealed that complaints against the police rose to 3,100
last year.

Most complaints (47 per cent) made last year came from
Protestants, 35 per cent from Catholics and 18 per cent
from those identified with neither religion.

Nearly 170 cases were referred to the Public Prosecution
Service. In five cases, nine prosecutions were recommended
against nine officers. In 66 cases, the Ombudsman called
for disciplinary action.


Police Ombudsman Concerned By MI5 Move

Sinn Féin has called on the British government to take
notice of the fears being expressed by the Police
Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, about the plans to increase the
role of MI5 in intelligence gathering in the six counties.

The Police Ombudsman has said she is concerned about the
transfer to MI5 of responsibility for intelligence
gathering on national security matters.

Nuala O'Loan outlined her concerns in her annual report,
which was presented on Wednesday. MI5 is to take over
responsibility for "security issues" next summer.

The Ombudsman's office can access relevant information when
investigating complaints against the PSNI - but MI5 does
not have to co-operate with it.

In her report, Mrs O'Loan said it is vitally important that
her office has the ability to access intelligence material.

Sinn Féin's Kelly said:

"Since the announcement was made indicating that primacy in
intelligence gathering in the six counties was to pass to
MI5 we have consistently raised our opposition to this plan
with the British government.

"It is unacceptable that an organisation which has set
itself against policing and political change throughout the
course of this process should be given an expanded role.

"The role of the securocrats within both the Special Branch
and MI5 needs to be reduced and ended, not supported and
expanded. The events of recent months including the
revelations about Mark Haddock and others within the UVF
underline that fact.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said he shared the Ombudsman's

He said that the SDLP had argued strongly that MI5 primacy
in the north was full of dangers.

"This matter is too big for the British government to get
so wrong", he said


T-Shirts Talk At D.C. Immigration Hearings

By Ray O'Hanlon

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform members are attending a
series of Capitol Hill hearings this week that are intended
to turn back efforts to reform the nation's immigration

The ILIR lobbyists are not lined up to speak at the House
of Representatives gatherings but, according to ILIR
executive director Kelly Fincham, they are speaking volumes
by being present in t-shirts calling for the legalization
of the Irish.

"We seem to be the only group turning up for these hearings
and they are still allowing us in with our t-shirts on,"
Fincham told the Echo.

The shirts proclaim a simple message with the slogan
"Legalize the"

This week's hearings have been called by Republican critics
of the Senate's bipartisan reform bill.

"Led by GOP committee chairs ... four committees will hold
a series of hearings to examine troubling provisions in the
Reid-Kennedy bill that undermine our border security
efforts and do little to address the concerns of the
American people," House Majority Leader, Rep. John Boehner,
said in a statement.

"These hearings reflect the commitment of House Republicans
to enact strong border security reforms that stop the flow
of illegal immigration along our borders and put a premium
on enforcing our laws," the Ohio Republican said.

Two of the hearings have been convened by the House
Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Peter King,
co-author of the House bill that focuses entirely on border
security and does not provide a path to so-called "earned
legalization" for undocumented and illegal immigrants.

The title of today's Homeland Security Committee hearing is
"How does the Reid-Kennedy bill compare to the House Border
Security bill when it comes to enhancing border

Thursday's hearing is entitled: "Does the Reid-Kennedy bill
make it more difficult for law enforcement to expedite the
removal of illegal aliens from the United States?"

Other hearings into the "Reid-Kennedy" bill are being held
by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the
Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep.
Sensenbrenner, and the House International Relations

ILIR's Fincham said that the group would aim to send
representatives to all the hearings.


FF Councillor Denies Bribe Claim

Paul Cullen

Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Fox has denied an allegation by
Frank Dunlop that he took a £2,000 bribe to support a major
rezoning in south Dublin.

Mr Fox described as completely untrue the allegation made
by Mr Dunlop in relation to the rezoning of Monarch
Properties' land at Cherrywood in 1993.

Mr Fox told the tribunal yesterday he had no knowledge of
Mr Dunlop's involvement with Monarch and had no discussions
with the lobbyist about Cherrywood. He never asked for or
got money from Mr Dunlop for anything.

He acknowledged receiving a donation of £600 "out of the
blue" from Monarch in 1991 and said he solicited a £1,000
donation from the company in 1993 when he was hoping to run
for the Seanad. In addition, Monarch made contributions to
golf classics of £250 in 1994, £280 in 1996 and £280 in
1997, and Dunloe Ewart, which took over Monarch, made a
£500 contribution to him in 1997, the tribunal heard.

At Mr Fox's request, Monarch also made contributions of
£250 and £300 to Broadford Rovers soccer club in south

The tribunal is investigating the rezoning of Cherrywood in
1993 and claims by Mr Dunlop that he paid £2,000 each to Mr
Fox and Colm McGrath to secure the rezoning. Originally Mr
Dunlop alleged the people he had paid money to in relation
to Cherrywood were councillors Don Lydon and the late Tom

Mr Fox described as a fabrication a claim by Mr Dunlop that
he had anything to do with the writing of a 1993 motion to
move the line of the proposed south-east motorway near
Cherrywood. The change proposed by Mr Fox, which did not go
through, would have allowed greater residential development
on Monarch's land.

Yesterday, Breffni Gordon, barrister, for Mr Fox, said a
person would be forgiven for thinking Mr Dunlop was
hallucinating given the number of mistakes and wild
inconsistencies he had made. He said Mr Dunlop was
enormously arrogant, took cheap shots and didn't even have
the demeanour or the hallmark of a witness telling the

Responding to this cross-examination, Mr Dunlop said these
were ungracious remarks. His relationship with Mr Fox had
been "egregious in the extreme".

Judge Alan Mahon said the issue of demeanour was important
and he added that it was of great significance for the
tribunal that Mr Dunlop had not just added names to the
list of councillors whom he gave money to, but had
substituted names on this list.

Mr Gordon said the witness, in changing the names of the
people whom he allegedly bribed, was now telling a
completely different story.

Mr Dunlop admitted that he got it wrong when first
interviewed by tribunal lawyers in private session in 2000.
He then obtained further documentation about the
development plan and was able to give a more detailed

Mr Gordon accused him of taking every opportunity to "lay
off" money on Mr Fox. He was "pouring the petrol and
waiting for a match to light".

Mr Dunlop denied the allegation. He said Mr Fox had
supported the Monarch rezoning and was anxious to do
everything possible to support it.

He was unable to say where and when he met Mr Fox, but it
was after Monarch engaged him in March 1993.

© The Irish Times


McCartney Sister's Warning On CRJ

A sister of murdered Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney
will warn MPs that Government plans to fund neighbourhood
justice schemes would legitimise paramilitaries' control of
their neighbourhoods.

By:Press Association

Catherine McCartney has been lined up to take part in a
briefing today of MPs at Westminster organised by
nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Mr Durkan, the MP for Foyle, will today also raise his
concerns about the schemes at a meeting with Conservative
leader David Cameron.

Before she set off for London, Ms McCartney told PA: "We
are going over to raise our concerns which lie primarily in
the fact that last September there were people who picketed
Robert`s home in the Short Strand area of Belfast for his
partner Bridgeen and two sons to get out and to get the
family of Jeff Commander to drop charges against people.

"There were people who took part in that picket who were
also on the panel in the Short Strand to discuss at a
public meeting plans for a restorative justice scheme.

"First of all, in my opinion I do not see why they have to
be funded at all by Government. It just legitimises

Robert McCartney died when a gang of Republicans in a
Belfast city bar attacked him and a friend while they were
drinking in January last year.

Despite appeals from the family and nationalist
politicians, people who were in the bar have not come
forward to give evidence about the attack in which Mr
McCartney was stabbed.

The McCartneys, who have taken their campaign to the White
House, Capitol Hill, Downing Street, The Dail in Dublin and
the European Parliament, have been highly critical of Sinn
Fein`s and the IRA`s handling of their brother`s murder,
claiming they have not done enough to force people to come
forward with information.

They have also voiced concerns about people from the Short
Strand who forced the family to leave their homes after
their high-profile campaign against Robert`s killers and
about those who were involved in the cover-up operation in
the bar being allowed to take part in state-funded
community restorative justice schemes.

Sinn Fein, which supports the schemes, argue they are a
viable alternative to paramilitary punishment attacks and
expulsions, enabling communities to bring the perpetrators
of low-level crime face to face with the victims to create
appropriate penalties.

However, critics of the schemes claim they are encroaching
into areas of law and order where they should not be
involved, have sometimes hindered police investigations
and, at worst, are intimidatory because of the involvement
of ex-republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Until recently, schemes operating in loyalist and
republican neighbourhoods have been privately funded.

However, last December the Government proposed state-funded

The SDLP and unionists voiced concerns that the original
proposal appeared to place police involvement with the
schemes in republican neighbourhoods at an arms length in a
bid to placate Sinn Fein, which has yet to endorse the
police reforms that have taken place in Northern Ireland.

Mr Durkan has highlighted comments by Sinn Fein Assembly
member Caitriona Ruane which suggested the state-backed
schemes would serve as an alternative police service in
areas where republicans would not welcome the Police
Service of Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Rape Crisis Centre and the Foyle Women`s Aid
have also expressed concerns about the Government`s
proposals ahead of revised plans which are due to be
released later this month.

Ms McCartney said she found it arrogant that people who
have been involved in intimidation of communities were
being put forward as suitable candidates to operate
restorative justice schemes.

"I do not think local people should be allowed to control
local communities by the authorities," she said.

"It would seem to me that state-backed schemes would be
open to all forms of abuse."


Opin: What Kind Of Justice Is This, Mr Hain?

20 July 2006

Even before the publication of legislation providing public
funding for community restorative justice schemes, concern
is growing about the possibility of former IRA activists
dispensing their own brand of justice. Fourteen CRJ schemes
have already been established in republican areas with
private money, but the taxpayer could soon be underwriting
an alternative courts system run by paramilitaries.

For a government whose prisons are full to overflowing, CRJ
must seem an ideal means of reducing prisoner numbers.
Minor offenders are quickly brought face to face with their
victims, to hear the effect of their crimes and normally to
agree on a punishment. Both accused and accuser are usually
pleased by the outcome.

In Northern Ireland, however, there are circumstances that
mean that any CRJ system must be rigorously regulated.
Where Sinn Fein withholds support for the police, is it
wise to let hardline republicans sit in judgment? Would
setting up this alternative system not postpone the day
when the police and the normal rule of law would be

Most important, what is the attitude of the police, as well
as the legal profession, to this encroachment on their
territory? CRJ may work well in more stable societies,
where the police operate freely, but has the Chief
Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, not expressed reservations?

There is still time for the rules to be tightened up, and
the SDLP's Mark Durkan has clashed with Sinn Fein's Mitchel
McLaughlin over his warnings to Mr Blair and Mr Cameron. He
fears that the Government's plans would create "state-paid
paramilitary vigilantes", free from safeguards or

In turn, Mr McLaughlin accuses the SDLP of trying to
justify their decision to jump too early on policing.
Coming from someone who has refused to accept that any
action of the IRA was a crime - including the murder of
Jean McConville, absolved of the IRA's informer smear - his
defence of republican-run CRJ is fatally flawed.

The Government must know that in proceeding with such
legislation, and by warning of widespread cuts in the civil
service, they are pre-empting the decisions of the elected
politicians, who have better experience of the problems
involved. Most people accept that Northern Ireland is
vastly over-governed, with surplus departments only set up
in 1998 to guarantee that the four main parties got at
least two Ministers.

Cutbacks are inevitable, whether there is a devolution
agreement by November 24 or not, and they will be painful
for many. Mr Hain has given fair warning of this reality,
which should have the effect of galvanising the
politicians, but he cannot leave us a CRJ system that can
be infiltrated by thugs and murderers. That must be opposed
by all democrats.


Runaway Circus Kangaroo On The Loose In Ireland

Wed Jul 19, 9:37 AM ET

A kangaroo is roaming the green hills of Ireland after
escaping a circus near the picturesque port of Kinsale.

"This kangaroo broke loose just before the show while they
Were bringing him from the cages to the arena. He decided to
take a walk," said local farmer John Walsh on whose land the
2-year-old male, named Sydney, made his break for freedom.

Circus staff launched a fruitless four-hour search
following the escape Sunday.

There had since been one unconfirmed sighting of the
animal, renamed "Hoppy" by locals and described
as two and a half to three feet tall and dark in color.

"He would be happy out there and he'll have plenty of
grass, plenty of water and plenty of sunshine,"
Walsh told Reuters on Wednesday as Ireland basked in near
record temperatures more typical of Sydney's native
Australia than Ireland's temperate maritime climate.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.


Ireland's Population Rises To Modern High

© 2006 The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland — Ireland's population has surged this year
to a modern high of more than 4.2 million people largely
because of immigrants from the newest European Union
nations, a government report said Wednesday.

The government's Central Statistics Office said preliminary
results for the April census put the population at
4,234,925 _ an increase of 8.1 percent in just the past
four years.

The report said about 400,000 people living in Ireland are
foreign-born, nearly double the figure from the last major
census in 2002.

The Irish Republic, founded in 1922, had suffered declining
population because of mass emigration until the 1960s. It
has experienced its first immigration wave since the so-
called Celtic Tiger economy took off in the mid-1990s.

Historically, however, the total population of Ireland
remains at least 2 million below the estimated 8.5 million
who lived on the island in the first half of the 19th
century. The Potato Famine of 1847-51, when a rotting
blight deprived peasants of their major food source, killed
about 1 million people and forced 2 million to emigrate.

The total population on the island _ combining the
republic's 4.2 million with the 1.7 million inhabitants of
the British territory of Northern Ireland _ today remains
below 6 million.

On the Net:



Synge, Synge, Synge

Six plays by one author in eight and a half hours? It might
get anybody's Irish up.

by Michael Feingold
July 18th, 2006 4:57 PM

DruidSynge: The Plays of John Millington Synge
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
John Jay College
899 Tenth Avenue

I loathe festivals. Festivals are for pigs. Pour as much
theater or other performing art as possible into a trough,
shove the consumers' faces into it, and watch while they
slurp it up. The feeling may be different in outlying
areas, where have-nots from all over come to gorge on a
cultural sustenance of which their hometowns have been
deprived, but the last thing New York needs, with its
overabundance of artistic events, is a festival.

The worst of festivals is that they've generated a new
species of art, specially designed to attract the kind of
consumers who want the maximum bang for their festival
buck. Festival events are now a niche market of their own,
the nonseasonal equivalent of Christmas ornaments or
Mother's Day cards. The chance to watch artists from
another part of the world doing for you what they normally
do for their home audiences, which was one of the initial
(and honorable) impulses behind the whole festival notion,
has been replaced by this synthetic form of festival
"property," created solely to tour the festival circuit,
offering you no particular links to any place or way of
performing, only a cold, smooth internationalism—theatrical
equivalents of the sterile glass-and-steel boxes called the
International Style in architecture. Sometimes you hear of
these items still being performed, years after the major
stops on the circuit have seen them, wandering through
tinier festivals in remote areas, like burnt-out stars
drifting through some distant galaxy.

DruidSynge has to have been a festival marketer's idea of a
good time in the theater. The complete dramatic works of
John Millington Synge, performed by the same company on the
same set for eight and a half continuous hours, with three
intermissions and a dinner break? Synge was a fascinating
writer, and given that he only wrote six plays during his
brief life, the last one left in rough draft, it's only
natural that they would share some continuity of dramatic
motifs, some echoes of each other's themes and even ways of
phrasing. But these are matters of interest chiefly to
literary scholars: As a way of enjoying Synge, sitting
through his entire oeuvre in one day is like a pie-eating
contest as a way of enjoying dessert. I was glad to
reconnect with the longish, infrequently staged one-act The
Well of the Saints, and I had never seen any performance of
the posthumously published Deirdre of the Sorrows, but
Synge's four other plays are as familiar to me (or to
anyone my age who's done time in a drama school or college
theater department) as corned beef is to cabbage.

I would have regarded the whole event as an exceptionally
long exercise in festival tedium, except for one thing:
Galway's Druid Theatre has hidden a gem in the middle of
its Synge-athon, much the way Deirdre's keepers try to
conceal her presence in the house from Naisi and his
brothers. Nestled at the day's center, just after the
dinner break, sits the best production of The Playboy of
the Western World, Synge's masterpiece, that I have ever
seen or hope to see. And I can't conceal the sneaking
suspicion that the Druidization of Synge came about because
director Garry Hynes, quite understandably, thought that
the whole Western world, not just the west of Ireland,
should see what a great production of The Playboy she had
done, and knowing that the Abbey Theatre's dismal
deconstruction of the work (by its subsequently sacked
artistic director) had toured extensively two years
earlier, thus spoiling the Playboy market, she invented
this whole elaborate wurzel-flummery just to get her own
better version a wider audience.

Well, it deserves one. Hynes is the first director I've
seen to get all of what's in Playboy—the smallness of its
squalid details and its bigness of spirit; the extravagance
of its near vaudevillian comedy and its intense, low-toned
eroticism; its clear-eyed satiric bitterness about human
dishonesty and its deep, rueful compassion. You can see,
from her production, exactly how and why the play caused
such offense—why it provoked an opening-night riot in
Dublin, a near-riot in New York, and a trial for obscenity
in Philadelphia (where the great lawyer and arts patron
John Quinn rescued the Abbey company from jail by, among
other things, getting the priest who had instigated their
arrest to admit, on the witness stand, that "the people of
Ireland do sometimes use the name of God other than in
prayer"). To a non-Irish person,

The Playboy is clearly universal—Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble
played it as a study of the way capitalism encourages
violence, linking its hero’s tale of his father’s murder to
gangster movies and Mickey Spillane novels—but Synge keeps
his universality rooted in the specific dank earth of his
home region, and a captious nationalist on the lookout for
slights could take almost any detail in its joyously
appalling picture of humanity as an insult to Ireland. (The
actresses in the original production went barefoot onstage;
when they played New York, an Irish American newspaper
accused them of having "English feet.")

Oddly, much of the delight in Hynes's Playboy staging
didn't harmonize with her efforts to build a set of
repeated motifs into the day-long marathon and trace
underlying psychological patterns. Playboy was performed in
its own period and customary naturalistic style (Hynes’s
occasional heightenings of which with choreographed
vaudevillean comedy seemed both natural and charming): What
did it have to do with the weirdly anachronistic costumes
and contemporary behavior that afflicted both The Tinker's
Wedding and The Well of the Saints? Aaron Monaghan,
Playboy's delightful, sparkish Christy, was noticeably
flagging vocally by play's end, probably because of his
weird miscasting as the burly, hard-nosed blacksmith in
Well of the Saints, a role antithetical to Christy in
purpose and character. In contrast, Nick Lee, wistfully
funny as Playboy's hapless Sean Keogh, was differently
droll as the more blustery cowardly lover in The Shadow of
the Glen, while Catherine Walsh, his love object as both
Shadow's maltreated wife and the spunky barkeep's daughter
Pegeen Mike in Playboy, etched two deeply moving portraits,
individuating women similar in kind but different in

If Playboy showed Hynes as a director of strong, complex
vision, some of the other plays showed her discomfitingly
willing to settle for the obvious. The day's opener, Riders
to the Sea, a work grim enough not to need any added
grimness, was played as unrelieved lament from beginning to
end, with no hope and no tension among the characters to
give its crushing final scene full tragic weight. The
Tinker's Wedding, a two-scene farce that always runs the
danger of seeming hokey, was staged in a look-how-funny-I-
am manner that only let up when Marie Mullen and Eamon
Morrissey, as the tinker's brash mother and the nervous
priest caught in the family's squabble, cut through the
self-consciousness with a little clean reality. And even
they had to struggle, as the disillusioned blind couple in
Well of the Saints, to make sense of a production in which
the rural peasantry behaved like Wal-Mart employees at an
office party. They got their recompense after dinner, when
Mullen made a deliciously forthright Widow Quin, and
Morrissey a vividly crusty Old Mahon.

Mullen was flummoxed again, though, by Hynes's treatment of
Deirdre of the Sorrows, which ends the day. Different from
the earlier plays in tone, though not dissimilar in
diction, Deirdre is Synge's attempt at a Yeatsian tale from
pre-Christian Irish myth, its jealous lover and crafty,
tyrannical husband suggesting a hieratic rework of Shadow
of the Glen. Inexplicably, Hynes chose to play this ultra-
Celtic piece in a brogue-free mid-Atlantic speech that
destroyed all connection with the flavorsome accents of the
previous seven hours, and with a stiff solemnity that
rubbed the liveliness out of Synge's easy-flowing dialogue.
Some of the younger actors, particularly Eoin Lynch as
Fergus and Richard Flood as Naisi, made an impression
despite these obstacles, but Gemma Reeves seemed a sorrow-
free Deirdre and Mick Lally an over-orotund Conchubor.
(Presumably Walsh and Morrissey, who in structural terms
should have taken these roles, were enjoying a well-earned
break.) It didn't spoil the wonder that was The Playboy,
but it reaffirmed my suspicion that a fine play well
performed is a good thing, while a festival is, by
inevitable logic, too much of a good thing.

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