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August 15, 2006

DUP Response 'Sign' of Times

News About Ireland & The Irish

IC 08/14/06 DUP Response ‘Sign’ Of Times
DI 08/14/06 Church Of Ireland Minister Debunks Orange Tradition
BT 08/15/06 Mystery Remains Over McConville Abduction
BB 08/14/06 Woman 'In Fear' Following Attacks
BT 08/15/06 The Residents Too Afraid To Turn On Their Lights At Night
BT 08/15/06 Teenager's Race Hate Hijack Horror
IT 08/15/06 Swimmer Killed In Water Accident Was Noted Irish Author
BT 08/15/06 David McWilliams: Unsung Hero
BT 08/15/06 To Google Or Not To Google? It's A Legal Question


DUP Response ‘Sign’ Of Times

By Ciarán Barnes

Plans to erect bilingual street signs in a nationalist
housing estate on the edge of West Belfast have been vetoed
by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Locals hoping to move into newly constructed homes in the
Hazel area of Lagmore wanted their streets to have both
English and Irish place names.

The Housing Executive supported the move as did local
postmen who said delivering mail to streets with bilingual
signs would present no problems.

However, the DUP has wrecked the plans by insisting on only
English street signs going up on Hazel Crescent, Hazel Glen
and Hazel View.

At a meeting of Lisburn City Council's town planning
committee on Monday, a majority of DUP councillors ruled
that Irish signs should be banned from the streets.

Lagmore residents have reacted angrily to the decision, as
have nationalist politicians who accused the DUP of
backtracking on a bilingual signs deal.

When Lisburn was going for city status in 2001 Sinn Féin
councillors said they would only support the move if the
council agreed to sign up to a bilingual signs policy.

Unionists reluctantly entered into the agreement, which the
DUP totally ignored on Monday evening.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler accused the DUP of being
“narrow-minded bigots".

He said, “The DUP has a total intolerance of minorities and
in particular the Irish language speaking community. Once
again Lisburn City Council has lived up to its name of
being one of the most bigoted councils in the North of

DUP Councillor Stephen Moore, who argued against erecting
the Irish street signs, said putting them on streets in the
Lagmore area would create a “sectarian ghetto”. His
telephone connection was lost when asked if he would object
to residents wanting to erect Ulster Scots signs in
loyalist areas of Lisburn.

Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes


Rethink of Orange Order

Church Of Ireland Minister Debunks Orange Tradition

By Mick Hall

A Church of Ireland minister has said that no “true
Protestant” should be a member of the Orange Order.

The Reverend David Frazer, of Laytown in Co Meath, said the
order had never been an upholder of “a true Orange
tradition of ‘civil and religious liberty for all’” in

He said the order’s present “crisis” was a reason to
rejoice for those wanting to see “an island of equals”.

Mr Frazer said: “It is an organisation that no longer has
the leadership of the ‘big house’ and one can see that its
lumpenproletariat membership has no positive conceptual

“Anyone in the institution who is able to think above the
tribal gut-reaction level should get out of a body that is
caught in a late 18th-century and early 19th-century

Mr Frazer was responding to comments made by the Reverent
Brian Kennaway, a former senior Orangeman, during a book-
signing event in Belfast, that formed part of the Féile an
Phobail programme last week.

Mr Kennaway, author of The Orange Order: A Tradition
Betrayed, suggested that “an island of equals” could be
achieved by adhering to the basic tenets of both the 1916
Proclamation and the Orange tradition in Ireland.

He argued that, although the order had always stood for
“civil and religious freedom for all and special privileges
for none”, it needed to reassert its authentic religious
values above the political, paramilitary and cultural
influences currently dominating it.

“This would help bring about “a new dispensation” in
Ireland”, he added.

Mr Frazer said he welcomed Mr Kennaway’s “thought-provoking
comments” as reported by Daily Ireland but questioned
whether the order could be transformed into a benign
religious institution.

“The problem with the Orange Order is that it was set up by
the gentry and clergy of the established Church of Ireland
in the troubled days of the 1790s to uphold the Williamite
settlement that made the British throne Protestant,” he

“It was never meant to be simply a fellowship of people who
were united in their allegiance to the reformed tradition
of western Christianity.

“The Orange Order was founded because of the fear that many
Protestants were being attracted to the principles of
republicanism that were being enunciated by the United

“In a reactionary move, the Anglo-Irish ascendancy created
an institution that would uphold privilege and perpetuate

“Its members are still indoctrinated into the ascendancy
way of thinking.

“Its marches are territorial, coat-trailing exercises that
are intended to let Roman Catholics know that Protestants
are top dogs in society,” he said.

The order’s support for the union with Britain is
conditional on the British throne “remaining in Protestant
hands”, which also excludes Presbyterians in Ireland, he

“No genuine, free-thinking Protestant of any denomination
who believes in democracy should belong to such an

He added: “It is bizarre that a 17th-century dynastic
struggle between an English Roman Catholic king and his
usurping Dutch Protestant son-in-law (who was supported by
the pope of the day) should continue to be used as a
central theme of any group identity in the 21st century.”


Mystery Remains Over McConville Abduction

By Chris Thornton
15 August 2006

The mystery surrounding Jean McConville's murder remains.
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's report on the murder has
confirmed substantial RUC failures in dealing with her
abduction and death.

But it has not established why the IRA chose to kill the
widowed mother of 10 in 1972 and hide her death from her
children and the wider world.

In her report, Mrs O'Loan repeats that there is no evidence
to support the IRA's claim that Mrs McConville was an

But she also suggests that the McConville family's favoured
explanation - that she was killed for helping a wounded
soldier - does not sit well with the facts.

The report has added to the mystery by revealing that the
Army misled police in the case - claiming Mrs McConville
"had left of her own free will and was known to be safe".

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said yesterday that he
believes the IRA killed Mrs McConville because they
believed she could be an informer - although he agreed that
there was no evidence to support that suspicion.

Mrs O'Loan and members of the family indicated that there
was a sectarian element to the murder, arguing that the IRA
found it easier to kill her because she was a Protestant.

Mrs O'Loan also argued that there are sound reasons for the
Government to waive its normal policy and say once and for
all whether Mrs McConville had passed any information to
the Army.

"I am of the view that the circumstances of the McConville
family are most exceptional and that there are overriding
reasons to depart from the normal policy," she said.

Michael McConville, one of the murdered woman's sons, said
he firmly believes she was killed for aiding a soldier.

"I think we all know the reason," he said. "My mother went
to the aid of a British soldier that was injured.

"The fact that my mother was a Protestant, I don't think
that helped matters either."

The report casts some doubt on this claim.

It went on: "However it is apparent that people in the area
were aware of this event, and it may well have caused
suspicion about Mrs McConville who was known to have been a
Protestant who had converted to Catholicism on her marriage
to a Catholic former member of the British Army."

Sir Hugh said: "Personally I think I'd go with the main
thrust: that she was perceived to be an informant.

"And I think Nuala has very clearly stated that she has no
evidence whatsoever to say that Mrs McConville was an
informant and I agree with her assessment."

The report also found that Mrs McConville had been attacked
and threatened the night before she disappeared.

"The family remember her as disappearing the day after she
was attacked after having allegedly been taken from a bingo
hall on the pretext that her daughter had been in an
accident and that she needed to go to the hospital," it

"The family say that she told them that she had been
attacked after leaving the bingo hall and beaten, and that
she had been told not to give information to the military."


Woman 'In Fear' Following Attacks

A north Belfast woman has said she is living in fear after
a spate of attacks on her house.

Jean Bunting's home on the Crumlin Road - which backs on to
an interface area - was one of several pelted with stones
and other missiles in the past week.

Residents claim the attacks have increased, with one on
Monday afternoon the worst yet.

Mrs Bunting's daughter Lisa Pilson said she was worried
about her mother's safety.

"Your home's supposed to be where you feel safe, my mother
can't feel safe in her home through the nationalist
community throwing (missiles) over at my mother.

"I'm very worried about my mummy's safety and she's being
intimidated out of her home which I don't think's fair on

"Anybody, on whatever side it is they shouldn't be
intimidated out of their home," Mrs Pilson said.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of the DUP said the attacks
were "hate crimes".

"These attacks have been going on for a number of days
causing damage to property and in one instance hitting an
elderly woman in the face.

"They are purely sectarian in nature and designed to
intimidate the Protestant community on this side of the
Crumlin Road," Mr Dodds said.

The police said they would continue to monitor the area.

"Police have dealt with a number of disturbances at this
point of the interface and others throughout the district
over the last few days," a spokesperson said.

"This is not an issue that can be resolved by policing
alone and officers within the district command unit are
keen to meet with the local community and other agencies to
work together to find a solution."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/14 21:46:35 GMT


The Residents Too Afraid To Turn On Their Lights At Night

By Emily Moulton
15 August 2006

Residents living in an interface area of north Belfast
claim they are living in fear after yet another attack on
their homes at the weekend.

During the early hours of Sunday morning several houses on
Leopold Street were bombarded with bottles, bricks and golf
balls by a group of up to 15 people.

The attack caused minor damage to windows and back gardens
but has caused extreme distress among residents who are too
scared to even turn their lights on at night for fear of
another attack.

Terrified resident Jean Bunting, whose house received the
brunt of the attack, said her 10-year-old grandson Adam now
refused to visit her because he was too scared.

"I had to have him lifted during the middle of the night
because we were that scared," she explained.

"Now he does not want to visit me. He said he did not want
to come here until all of this had stopped."

Ms Bunting said this was not the first time her home had
come under attack.

"Last Thursday night a brick came through the attic window
and hit me in the face.

"I am just so frightened.

"I am too afraid to come out and collect my coal or to even
turn on my lights in case they can see me."

The residents claim the people who launched the four hour
assault on their homes were nationalist residents from
nearby Flax Street who attended last Saturday night's
Ardoyne Fleadh Festival open air concert.

They said they tried contacting organisers of the event and
Sinn Fein representatives about the ongoing problem but
have not heard back from them.

Sinn Fein representative for the area, Margaret
McClenaghan, said she was not aware of the ongoing attacks
and would be more than happy to speak to community
representatives to try and solve the problem.

Frank McCoubrey from the Ulster Political Research Group
said he was distressed by last weekend's assault and was
appalled by the lack of response from the police.

"In this day and age it is simply not acceptable for anyone
to have to live in fear like this," he said.

"I have to say that in the past you would have got a
reaction from community representatives in this area for
these recent attacks but there has been a lot of
communication and the situation has been kept calm."


Teenager's Race Hate Hijack Horror

Thugs try to mow down Chinese girl in her father's car

By Clare Weir
15 August 2006

A teenager from the Chinese community told today of her
terror as racist thugs tried to mow her down after
hijacking her father's car.

Belinda Kam (16) told how three men armed with a handgun,
hammer and petrol bombs attacked her father, Joe, at their
Londonderry takeaway before taking the family car and
torching it during weekend disturbances ahead of the
Apprentice Boys parade.

The teenager was bruised after her father pulled her from
the path of the red Vauxhall after the masked hijackers -
aged between 17 and 19 - drove it towards her. Police said
today they are treating the incident as a hate crime
against the Kams, who have been targeted before.

Mr Kam was hit with a hammer and suffered a suspected
broken bone, and the gunman aimed the weapon at both their
heads. Their misery did not end there - over the weekend,
the hijackers used both Belinda and Joe's mobile phones to
nuisance call all their contacts, including family members.

The pair told today how they are now wary about approaching
their premises at night and have been forced to change the
locks on both the shop and their home.

Mr Kam was returning to his Letterkenny Road takeaway with
Belinda and was preparing to take a last delivery shortly
after 2.30am on Saturday when the three masked men

Joe said that he had left Belinda in the car while he
popped back into the shop to pick up some noodles.

"Three boys came over across the road and when I turned
round I saw they had a gun, a hammer and a petrol bomb," he

"They started to say 'give me the f*****g key' and I tried
to get them away from the car and one raised the gun at

Belinda continued: "I got out and saw something on the
ground and they were kicking it and I realised it was my
dad. They pointed the gun at my head."

Joe said he was hit on the wrist, palm and ankle with the
hammer and as he jumped up to stop one of the men lighting
a petrol bomb to throw at his shop, he fell back against a
wall and hit his head.

When access to the car was gained, the driver then aimed
the vehicle straight at Belinda.

"I pulled her out of the way and it just brushed her leg,
but she could have been killed. They did it deliberately,"
said Mr Kam.

He later learned from police that the car had been torched
on the edge of the Bogside, but the nightmare did not end

Belinda said: "My phone was worth £250 and they prank
called all my contacts, my granny, my cousin and my

Her father added: "We had to change all the locks on the
business and the house. My wife is very panicky and they
called my own mother."

It is not the first time the Kams have been targeted. Just
a fortnight ago, youths urinated on the shop front and the
family car and threw stones at staff, scratching Joe's
nephew's ear.

At one point he asked local politicians and community
representatives to intervene.

"We just want them to leave us alone," he said.

"The police were very helpful and have got some DNA from
Saturday night and hopefully that will help. I am just
trying to run my business and look after my family."

A police spokesman has appealed for information on the

He said: "The vehicle was found abandoned and on fire at
Rossville Street. Police are treating the incident as a
hate crime and are anxious to hear from anyone who can help
to identify the culprits."

The incident was part of a number of attacks which occurred
over the weekend.


Swimmer Killed In Water Accident Was Noted Irish Author

George Jackson and Áine Kerr

The 56-year-old Irishman who died after apparently being
struck by a jet-ski or a speedboat while swimming in Spain
was yesterday named as Seán Ó Siadhail from Kilmessan, Co
Meath, a retired school teacher and well-known Irish

It is believed he was struck on the back of the head while
swimming in the sea off the Costa Blanca last Saturday

Mr Ó Siadhail, who was originally from Derry, retired from
teaching in Athboy, Co Meath, last September. His body is
expected to be flown to the family home in Kilmessan
tomorrow night.

His death follows a number of recent water accidents abroad
involving Irish holidaymakers.

Earlier this month, Basil Bourke (21), nephew of Minister
for Defence Willie O'Dea, died in a drowning accident while
holidaying in Ibiza.

Brendan O'Reilly (23), from Annalitten, Co Monaghan,
drowned in a swimming pool while on holidays in Gran

A spokesman for Irish Water Safety said there had been a
steady decline in the number of drownings in Ireland over
the last five years, with the lowest number in 40 years
recorded last year.

However, he said there had been a notable increase in the
number of drownings abroad involving Irish citizens.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the police in the Costa Blanca
region of eastern Spain said that Mr Ó Siadhail had a
Spanish residence and was a member of the Irish community
in Torrevieja, an area which is very popular with the

"In what was a tragic accident, we believe he was hit by
either a jet-ski or a speedboat. He was spotted floating in
the water by bathers off the popular Cabo Roig beach at
Orihuela Costa near Torrevieja on Saturday afternoon," he

"He was wearing only bathing trunks and had a single big
gash to the back of the head . . . Everything points to
this being a tragic accident. There were no other injuries
on the body."

Mr Ó Siadhail is survived by his wife Eilish and their
children Ruth, Donncha, Eabha, Neasa and Marcas.

© The Irish Times


David McWilliams: Unsung Hero

Ulster singer-songwriter David McWilliams, who penned and
recorded the famous ballad, The Days of Pearly Spencer,
died in 2002, aged 56. Now Ballymena man Colin Agnew has
set up an appreciation society, which meets for the first
time this week to pay tribute to the unsung local hero.
Claire McNeilly finds out more.

By Claire McNeilly

15 August 2006

It's the obvious question. Why would a Protestant from a
divided town like Ballymena support Celtic Football Club?
And why would the same man set up a fan club to honour a
musician whose talents were largely ignored when he was

Colin Agnew (44) is a horticulturist and founder of The
David McWilliams Appreciation Society.

He explains: "David McWilliams is Ballymena's most famous
musical son.

"He wrote and recorded The Days of Pearly Spencer, which is
one of the classic songs of the 60s.

"Today, it still gets a lot of airplay. I feel very
strongly that he has been overlooked in music terms,
despite being one of Northern Ireland's top stars."

Founding an appreciation society has been a personal
crusade, explains Colin when we meet at the Palm House in
Belfast's Botanic Gardens, where he has worked for almost
25 years.

"It will be good for the image of Ballymena because David
was an international star - very big in Europe and
particularly popular in France, Holland and Italy," he

"He grew up in the town, where he was a respected
footballer who crossed the religious divide by playing for
both Harryville Amateurs and Broadway Celtic.

"Growing up, the two things that really mattered to him
were music and football."

But that doesn't explain how Colin - born and bred in
Ballykeel, a staunchly loyalist enclave - wound up swearing
allegiance to Celtic.

"The most obvious team to support was Rangers or Manchester
United, but I always like to do things differently so I
adopted Celtic as my team," he says.

"I loved their unusual kit (the players used to wear their
numbers on their shorts, not on the back of their shirts,
which was really neat). I got a lot of stick, but people
grew to respect that Celtic was my team. It was never a
problem, but things were different back then ... "

Yet it's a tradition he has handed down to his sons, Daniel
(13) and Benjamin (8).

"The boys follow Celtic as well. We try to get across to a
couple of games every season," he says.

However, neither wife Gill (39) nor their daughter Sophie
(10) share the boys' love of football.

Gill, who is originally from Cambridgeshire, works at Marks
& Spencer. The couple met when her father was pastor of the
local Baptist Church at Hill Street.

Interestingly, 1967 was a landmark year for both of Colin's

"I remember when Celtic won the European Cup in 1967," he
goes on. "That swung it for me. They were the first British
team to win it. I was seven at the time and it made a big
impression on me.

"That was the same year that David released The Days of
Pearly Spencer, which is actually a poignant ballad about a
homeless man whom David met in Ballymena."

The town has done little to honour McWilliams in the four
years since his death.

Although he was born in the Cregagh area of Belfast and
died in Ballycastle, his family moved to Ballymena when he
was three and he grew up in the Rectory area.

Between 1967 and 1968, the prolific singer-songwriter
recorded three British top 40 albums on the Major Minor
record label. However, his 1967 recording of The Days of
Pearly Spencer was never a British chart hit. A quarter of
a century elapsed before a cover version by Soft Cell's
Marc Almond reached number four.

But why has Colin taken up the gauntlet, as it were, in
McWilliams' memory? Did they know each other?

"I never met him, which is something I regret ... I heard
The Days of Pearly Spencer on the radio and someone told me
he was local," he reveals.

"I like his music very much - 3 O'Clock Flamingo Street and
Harlem Lady were big hits in Europe - and I set up the
society because I think we need a lasting tribute.

"David has been somewhat overlooked since he died and
people didn't realise what a star he was when he was alive.
We aim to preserve his memory and work.

"We also want to highlight his Ballymena and Northern Irish
connections by promoting the work of local songwriters and
helping them in any way we can."

Another project in the pipeline involves producing a CD,
although Colin has been unable to secure funding as yet.

"It has been a pilgrimage for me these last couple of years
trying to get this thing off the ground," he says. "I have
contacted a lot of musicians and I've 20 artists lined up -
the list reads like a Who's Who of the Northern Irish music

Colin actually began his 'pilgrimage' two years ago, during
the Ballymena Arts Festival.

"We had a very successful David McWilliams tribute night,"
he explains. "Afterwards, a number of people agreed it
would be nice to pay him a lasting tribute.

"I went on George Jones' Radio Ulster show and received a
lot of encouragement from musicians - even when funding
fell through they told me to keep at it."

He continues: "Initially, a funding application was
rejected by the Arts Festival, so I decided to set up a
committee locally and then submit another application.
Hopefully any shortfall will be supplemented by Ballymena

Dealing with red tape can't be easy for the Greenmount
College graduate, who, as team leader at Botanic, is
responsible for tending to an eclectic mixture of flower
displays, exotic trees, tropical and sub-tropical plants.

"Plants are a lot less complicated than people. They're
very easy to work with," he agrees. "I have always had a
passion for plants. I get a great degree of satisfaction
from nurturing a young seedling until it grows into a
mature plant."

And working with tropical plants has certainly taught him

He explains: "You don't see them every day of the week;
they are unusual. One of the breeds here, Doryantiaes
Excelsa - commonly known as the Spear Lily - comes from

"This year, it flowered for the first time in 25 years. It
was just a small plant when I arrived here, but I've been
looking after it ever since. It was donated to Belfast by
Kew Gardens in London just after the Palm House was
refurbished in the late 70s, early 80s."

Perhaps, another reason why his unsung hero strikes a chord
with Colin has something to do with his own hidden talents?

He adds: "I love poetry - I actually dabble in it. I've had
a couple of bits and pieces published in local anthologies,
but I'm not very good ... "

The first meeting of The David McWilliams Appreciation
Society will be held this Thursday at the Rectory
Residents' Association offices in Ballymena


To Google Or Not To Google? It's A Legal Question

Search engine's sense of humour crashes as it fires off
warning letters over use of name as a verb

By Stephen Foley in New York
15 August 2006

Search engine giant Google, known for its mantra "don't be
evil", has fired off a series of legal letters to media
organisations, warning them against using its name as a

In June, Google won a place in the Oxford English
Dictionary, while "to google", with a lower case "g", was
included last month in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate
Dictionary, America's leading reference book.

The online service WordSpy, meanwhile, defines "google" as:
"To search for information on the Web, particularly by
using the Google search engine; to search the Web for
information related to a new or potential girlfriend or
boyfriend." This is also what pops up first if you type
"googling" into Google.

But the California-based company is becoming concerned
about trademark violation. A spokesman confirmed that it
had sent the letters. "We think it's important to make the
distinction between using the word Google to describe using
Google to search the internet, and using the word Google to
describe searching the internet. It has some serious
trademark issues."

But although an attempt to protect the company's trademark,
the letters have raised snickers after they were leaked on
to the web. Bloggers have been making fun of the examples
Google's lawyers deem acceptable. They included:
"Appropriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy
from the party. Inappropriate: I googled that hottie."

Web veterans have also been taken aback by Google's
suddenly humourless approach. The eight-year-old company
has previously cultivated an image of youthful non-
conformity, from the jeans and T-shirts often worn by its
billionaire founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, to the
scooter lanes and volleyball courts at its Palo Alto

Eyebrows may be raised, too, in the publishing and media
industries, which are worried about Google's encroachment
on their intellectual property via itsGoogle News pages and
its plan to put every book ever published on to the web.

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