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August 28, 2006

Intelligence Services Link to Human Bomb Strategy

News About Ireland & The Irish

CB 08/29/06 Intelligence Services Link To Human Bomb Strategy
GU 08/29/06 Lennon Talks About Threats That Forced Him Out Of Int Football
IM 08/29/06 Opin: Irish Holocaust Denial & Campaign Against SF/IRA
DS 08/26/06 Filmmaker Ken Loach Joins Boycott Of Israel
RT 08/28/06 Man Dies In Co Clare Circus Accident
BG 08/29/06 Dark Days For Guinness
SM 08/29/06 'President Bartlet' To Study At Irish University
IT 08/29/06 Car Rental And Insurance Firms Warned About Ban On Elderly
IT 08/29/06 Great Book Of Gaelic Show Opens

Intelligence Services Link To Human Bomb Strategy

Published on 29/08/2006

Britain's intelligence services may have masterminded an
IRA human bomb strategy which killed soldiers and civilians
here in 1990, a lobby group has claimed

The British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) said counter-
terrorism agencies may have been behind the lethal
strategy, which saw six soldiers and one civilian die after
civilians linked to the security forces were made to drive
explosives into Army facilities.

The pressure group has sent a dossier to the Police Service
of Northern Ireland (PSNI)'s Historical Enquiries Team
about the October 1990 bombing of three Army installations
and checkpoints, two of which exploded.

An official report from BIRW said: "It is known that at
least two security force agents were involved in these
bombings and allegations have been made that the human bomb
strategy was the brainchild of British intelligence.

"Questions arise as to whether the RUC, An Garda Siochana
and the Army's Force Research Unit had prior and/or
subsequent intelligence about the bombings.

"These questions in turn lead to concerns about whether
these attacks could have been prevented and why no-one has
been brought to justice."

A worker at a Londonderry Army base, Patsy Gillespie, was
used by the IRA as the first human bomb and forced to drive
a large explosive device to a military checkpoint at
Coshquin near Londonderry, where it exploded.

The bomb was set off while he was still in the driver's
seat, killing him and five soldiers - Stephen Burrows,
Stephen Beacham, Vincent Scott, David Sweeney and Paul

Another soldier, Ranger Cyril Smith, was killed the same
night in a similar attack on a permanent checkpoint at
Killeen near Newry. Civilian James McEvoy, 68, was injured
after being ordered to drive the van and its deadly cargo
or see his two sons shot.

An attempt to bomb Lisanelly Army barracks in Omagh, Co
Tyrone, was foiled when explosives failed to ignite.

The claims may be linked to allegations made by an unknown
Army agent, who said the RUC's Special Branch had three IRA
agents involved in three separate attacks in south Down in
1989 and 1990.

Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is
investigating the police's handling of the Killeen killing.

Friends of Mr Smith, who was from Carrickfergus, near
Belfast, and aged 21, have organised a petition calling on
the Government to probe the murder.

At the time, there was widespread criticism of the IRA's
human bomb tactics, which were seen as particularly savage
and merciless.

The Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly, accused
republicans of crossing a new threshold of evil.

A major security review in the aftermath forced the
introduction of measures to protect security force

A PSNI spokesman said he was unable to comment at this

by David Gordon


'The threat was that if I played I would get hurt. We all
knew that hurt meant getting shot'
Neil Lennon Reveals Talks About The Death Threat That
Forced Him Out Of International Football

Tuesday August 29, 2006
The Guardian

The telephone call which changed my life was not even made
to me. It was late afternoon on August 21 2002, when "he"
called the BBC's office at Ormeau Avenue in Belfast. He
didn't say his name - they never do - but left enough hints
as to his background. His message was brief and to the
point: "This is the LVF [Loyalist Volunteer Force]. If Neil
Lennon takes the field tonight he will get seriously hurt."

It didn't matter to the caller that I had lived away from
Northern Ireland for 14 years. He didn't know that my
family was not associated in any way with political or
sectarian groups. It only mattered that, for the first
time, a Roman Catholic who also played for Celtic would
captain Northern Ireland against Cyprus in Belfast.

The seeds of what happened that night were laid on the
evening of February 28 2001. That was the first time I
played for Northern Ireland after joining Celtic, in a
friendly against Norrway at Windsor Park. When I signed for
Celtic a few months earlier I knew it was highly probable
that when I turned out for Northern Ireland I would get
stick. But nothing could have prepared me for the sheer
scale of what happened before and during that match.

A few days before the game, my parents at home in Lurgan
were appalled to learn that the words "Neil Lennon RIP" had
been scrawled on a wall in the town of Lisburn. It was a
terrible shock to quiet-living and fundamentally decent
Christian people. My father Gerry had not been well and was
to suffer a heart attack in August 2001. He, my mother
Ursula and the rest of my family were deeply upset by what
some moron undoubtedly thought was a sick joke - or maybe
in light of subsequent events, he or she meant it as a shot
across my bows, a warning of worse to come. Worse, much
worse, did come my way.

From the moment I went on to that pitch to play against
Norway I was the target of an unremitting chorus of boos,
jeers, catcalls and insults. In a half-empty stadium, the
noise seemed to amplify and at times it seemed as though it
was the only sound to be heard. Deep down, it was the sheer
scale of things which upset me. Later, people would try to
play down what happened, saying it was only a minority in
the crowd who had hurled abuse. There wasn't a massive
crowd at the game, maybe 7,000 or so, and the minority
might only have been 500 or 600, but to me the proportion
booing me didn't matter - one per cent would have been too

Not only could I hear the jeering, but I could also see
people in the stands arguing and gesticulating at each
other. Sections of the home crowd were having a go at their
fellow supporters who were abusing me and nobody was paying
much attention to proceedings on the pitch.

Now I have been booed and jeered many times - just about
every time I play for Celtic away from home. I had heard
anti-Catholic songs being sung at Windsor Park
internationals before but, like most Catholic players,
played on and ignored them. The fact is you do not mind
being booed by the opposition fans or even your own
supporters if you are having a stinker. But this was
something else again and was, I believe, completely
premeditated. I had played 35 times for my country before
that night and had a good relationship with most fans, who
knew I gave my all for Northern Ireland. So what had
happened to make things so different? Answer: I now played
for Celtic.

I was aware that joining Celtic might give me problems.
Indeed, I had spoken at length on the subject to my mentor
and manager, Martin O'Neill, while we had been discussing
my move from Leicester City. He had been the first Catholic
to captain Northern Ireland.

Martin's attitude was that I should come to Celtic and then
we would deal with whatever problems arose. Truthfully,
neither of us anticipated the escalation of problems or the
lack of support I would get when things boiled over.

Opinions differ as to what took place at half-time, but my
recollection is that Sammy McIlroy said to me that he had
spoken to Martin about taking me off at the interval before
the game in any case. Given that I was relatively new at
Celtic and should not be playing every minute of every
game, that sounded plausible.

I have to say that in retrospect, I don't think Sammy
handled things well. Martin O'Neill has no memory of such a
conversation, and perhaps Sammy said this at the time to
cover up the deep embarrassment which he and the Irish
Football Association's officials were undoubtedly feeling.
I would have preferred him to be up front, to have said
"we're going to take you off for your own sake and we'll
deal with this afterwards".

After the match, Sammy tried to play things down and was so
blas‚ in interviews that unfortunately he gave out the
wrong message. He indicated that everyone got booed at some
time or another in their career - a remark that angered my
family in particular, as they were the ones who had been
forced to live with the appalling graffiti. Neither Sammy
nor anyone from the Irish FA confronted the issue at the
time, and there were no warnings to the crowd that I heard,
though to be fair the abuse was roundly condemned
afterwards. So the minority got their wicked way. The
football pitch can be a very lonely place, and I never felt
so isolated in a match as I did that night.

After another two World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria I
missed three games but was picked for matches running up to
the European Championships. At the start of what would be a
momentous season for Celtic and for me, Northern Ireland
played Cyprus. A few hours before the match it was
announced that, in my 41st appearance for my country, I
would be captain. Michael Hughes was unavailable while
Steve Lomas and Gerry Taggart, who would probably have been
given the armband, were injured. I was the most experienced
player in the squad and pretty much the obvious choice to
lead the side.

I was honoured, and my family were proud and delighted for
me. At a press conference I emphasised that the events of
the Norway game were in the past and that I preferred to
look forward. I said honestly that it had been difficult at
the time, but I had put it all behind me. The political
situation in Northern Ireland had also changed. It was now
more than four years on from the Good Friday Agreement, and
I thought there was genuine goodwill on all sides. But one
man in a phone box many miles away thought differently.

It all went pear-shaped late in the afternoon. We were
having our pre-match meal when Sammy took me to one side.
He told me straightforwardly that there were two police
officers from the newly named Police Service of Northern
Ireland outside wanting to talk to me. I asked him what it
was about, and he told me there had been a phone call and I
would have to talk to the officers about it. I knew
immediately what the call was, and my heart sank into my
boots. In the run-up to the match I knew I was "fair game"
for any madman wanting to make a point and I had
anticipated someone trying to get publicity for their
"cause", especially after it was announced that I would
captain the side. But I had not thought it would go as far
as someone threatening my life.

The police officers were very matter of fact. They said
that there had been a telephone call to the BBC's offices
in Belfast by someone who claimed to represent the LVF. The
threat was that if I played that night I would get hurt.
Without it being needed to be said, we all knew that in all
probability "hurt" meant getting shot.

I asked the officers how genuine the threat was and they
said that nine out of 10 of these calls were hoaxes. They
were firm, however, that they could not tell me what to do.
That decision would have to be mine and they would react
accordingly. I presumed that meant if I decided to play I
would get armed police escorts to and from the game etc,
but my immediate thought was: how would anyone be able to
stop someone getting to me in the many public areas I would
enter that night, not least the Windsor Park pitch?

My first reaction, nevertheless, was that I should play on.
The percentage bet was that the whole thing was a hoax and
I would be safe. But a whole whirlwind of thoughts started
coursing through my mind, the vast majority of which
centred on my family and their safety. And finally it came
down to this: how much of a bet do you take with your life?
This time Sammy reacted well and sympathetically. He said
that if the call had been about his son, he would want him
to go home.

I then called my parents. My father said that of course I
could not play and he would come and get me. He rushed to
the hotel and was angered that no one could tell him where
I was. He eventually made his way to my room where I was
just finishing packing. A few minutes later I was in his
car and on my way home. We had a police escort at first but
then some friends met us and we travelled in convoy for the
rest of the journey. I have not been back to Windsor Park
since and Dad still has his unused tickets for the match in
which I didn't captain Northern Ireland.

Before I left the hotel, I told Sammy that I probably would
not be returning to play for the national side again. My
main thoughts were for my family. It was hard enough for
them when I joined Celtic, and the graffiti before the
Norway game had been an awful experience. So I just could
not in all conscience put them through that strain again.
And I had my daughter to think of. We had managed to shield
Alisha - at home in England and just 10 years old - from
the dreadful facts of her father's life in a divided city
and country. How was I now going to explain to her that her
daddy's life was under threat because he played football
for a certain team?

All these things and more raced through my mind as we
hurried back to Lurgan. It was then that I finally decided
I would not play for Northern Ireland again. Frankly, given
my thoughts for my family, the decision was pretty easy.

It was a relief to get back to Glasgow and the catcalls I
get there on a daily basis. I was utterly amazed when the
news was dominated by what had happened to me. I had never
got used to seeing myself play on television, never mind
being interviewed off the pitch, but here I was now
featuring in the headlines and main bulletins. It was
almost as if I was watching a different person - who was
this Neil Lennon they kept referring to along with the
words "death threats"? How could a mere footballer gain
such attention?

As I lay there contemplating my future I couldn't help but
think of quitting the game altogether. Only my desire to
succeed at Celtic kept me from walking away. Even so, I had
lost something very special. No one except another
footballer can really know about the long hard hours of
work that go into reaching the top level that is
international football. All the other sacrifices such as
special diets and the rigours of self-discipline all count
towards your achievements, and here was I with the pinnacle
of my career to date snatched away by a man with a

In the aftermath, much was made of the fact that the call
was apparently a hoax. One English journalist wrote I was a
"big girl's blouse" for not risking death. Funnily enough,
he never had the courage to say that to my face. What might
have been the most upsetting speculation was that pulling
out of the game served some sort of hidden agenda on my
part. It's the sort of biased reasoning which has seen me
burned in effigy on the tops of bonfires across Northern
Ireland on July 12, the great Unionist and Protestant day
of celebration - I must be rivalling Guy Fawkes for being

I took a long time to recover fully. I had never made
public my political views or religious leanings, but here
was I, a footballer, being treated as a public hate figure,
simply because I was a Catholic who wore the green and
white hoops of Celtic.

This is an edited extract from Man and Bhoy by Neil Lennon
published by HarperCollins on September 4 2006 at œ17.99.
Copyright cNeil Lennon 2006

Opin: Irish Holocaust Denial & Campaign Against SF/IRA

National Rights And Freedoms Opinion/Analysis
Monday August 28, 2006 15:35 by

The denial of genocide as a modern political weapon

Irish Holocaust denial, or genocide denial, which refers to
itself as revisionism, has evolved over three decades of
propagandising as an important "cutting edge" ideological
weapon in the ideological war against the IRA after 1969.

"The political commentator, the ballad singer and the
unknown maker of folk-tales have all spoken about the Great
famine, but is there more to be said? If man, the prisoner
of time, acts in conformity with the conventions of society
into which he is born, it is difficult to judge him with
irrevocable harshness. So it is with the men of the famine
era. Human limitations and timidity dominate the story of
the Great Famine, but of great and deliberately imposed
evil in high positions of responsibility there is little

Editors R. Dudley Edwards and T. Desmond Williams writing
in "The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History 1845-52"

"Firstly the Great Irish Famine is not a generalised
illustration of the dangers of "unrestrained" capitalism,
rather it was a freak natural occurrence that was in many
ways exacerbated by flawed government policies. Secondly,
the Irish Famine was very different from the tragedies
which have recently being witnessed in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Thirdly, the fundamental cause of famines in the late
twentieth century is not Western "injustice" and
"indifference" but are rather the actions of third world
governments and their armed political competitors.

On a superficial level the proximate cause of the famine
can be readily identified; the fungus phytophthora
infestans which destroyed a large portion of Ireland's
potato crop over the period 1845-9. Indeed it has been
convincingly shown that the pre-famine Irish economy did
not contain the seeds of its own destruction and that there
was nothing inevitable about the famine had the potato
blight not occurred. The famine was an unpredictable
ecological freak; in words of the Dutch historian and
scientist Peter Solar it was a case of "Ireland as having
been profoundly unlucky" rather than being the inevitable
product of market forces run wild (or of unrestrained
population growth)."

Learning the Wrong Lessons: Governments, Hunger and the
Great Irish Famine By Gareth G Davis

Irish Holocaust denial, or genocide denial, which refers to
itself as revisionism, has evolved over three decades of
propagandising as an important "cutting edge" ideological
weapon in the ideological war against the IRA after 1969.
While appearing on the surface as a scholarly challenge to
the well-established record of English genocide against the
Gaelic nation since the Norman invasion, Irish Holocaust
denial serves as a powerful theory uniting otherwise
disparate groups (e.g., Ulster Unionists, Southern Neo-
Unionists, 26 county free staters, the British
establishment, British public opinion, etc.).

On the surface, Irish Holocaust deniers portray themselves
as individuals and groups engaged in a legitimate,
dispassionate quest for historical knowledge and "truth."
Dressing themselves in pseudo-academic garb, they have
adopted the term "revisionism" in order to mask and
legitimise their enterprise. After all, the ongoing
challenge to and revision of previously accepted historical
interpretation is one of the hallmarks of the professional
historian's craft.

These so-called revisionists assert that the premise that
the British Empire engaged in a premeditated campaign of
genocide against the Gaelic people of Ireland is one that
does not stand honest scholarly scrutiny.

They do not deny that the British government engaged in
persecution of and discrimination against the Gaelic
population. They even admit the frequency of famine and
prevalence of discrimination in occupied Ireland. They
assert, however, that the anti-Irish actions of the British
government were in large part a legitimate response to
Irish misdeeds and disloyalty. As such, the measures taken
were not qualitatively different from similar actions of
European powers of the time.

Irish Holocaust deniers seek to plant seeds of questioning
and doubt about the Irish Holocaust in their mass
audiences. While Holocaust denial has become an article of
faith among many in the 26 county establishment, its
success does not depend upon conversion to that faith among
the general public. The spread of scepticism about the
scope and historicity of the Irish Holocaust among a
critical mass of public opinion would be considered to be a
significant ideological triumph in and of itself.

Genocide denial has been widely embraced within the
otherwise disparate contemporary Neo-Unionist movement
because it serves as an ideological cement that meets a
very contemporary political need. In particular, it
provides a sanitized envelope for the latter-day occupation
of the six counties of north eastern Ireland by seeking to
show that the heinous crimes ascribed to British rule in
Ireland never took place. As such, much of the barrier
preventing the legitimisation of contemporary British rule
in Ireland from making a strategic breakthrough by
appealing to a more mainstream audience would be removed.
Accordingly, Holocaust denial provides contemporary
legitimisation through posthumous rehabilitation. It is no
accident that some Southern establishment parties are avid
propagators of genocide denial ideology. The core message
of the Irish Holocaust deniers is even more insidious.

They recognize the fact that most people believe that the
Irish Holocaust / Artificial Famines were man made. (There
were nine "famines" between 1740 and 1880. And incredible
amount of pure incompetance, timidity, or profound bad
luck?) How can it be, they ask, that the great majority
have come to accept as truth an historical assertion which
is in actuality a total falsehood?

They answer that most people have come to accept
uncritically the story of the Irish Holocaust because they
have been systematically propagandised with deliberate lies
for over one hundred and fifty years. These lies include
materials inserted by De Valera into the educational
curriculum; the content of Holocaust-related folk lore and
song; a vast Irish Holocaust literature; public rituals of
genocide remembrance etc.. They picture a vast shadowy
conspiracy, led by Sinn F‚in/IRA and Fianna F il dupes that
manipulate the institutions of culture in order to
disseminate a false mythology.

The purpose of this genocide mythology, they assert, is the
delegitimisation of the British state in Ireland and a
legitimisation of the IRA campaign. This legitimisation is
used to advance the IRA agenda of Irish Unity and total
independence from England.

Standout British Filmmaker Joins Boycott Of Israel

Daily Star staff
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BEIRUT: Ken Loach, the critically acclaimed British
filmmaker who won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film
Festival, has lent his support to the cultural boycott of
Israel, according to a personal statement issued late last
week. Loach's statement comes after 100 Palestinian
cultural activists and film professionals issued an
international call to artists and directors to back an
academic and cultural boycott of Israel - which means
declining participation in Israeli film festivals, cultural
institutions or arts initiatives that are either state-
sponsored or do not take a clear stand against the Israeli
occupation and alleged war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.

The umbrella organization that has initiated the boycott,
the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel, likens its action to the boycott of
South African arts events during the apartheid era.

In his statement, Loach writes: "I support the call by
Palestinian filmmakers, artists and others to boycott
state-sponsored Israeli cultural institutions and urge
others to do join their campaign. Palestinians are driven
to call for this boycott after 40 years of the occupation
of their land, destruction of their homes and the
kidnapping and murder of their civilians. They have no
immediate hope that this oppression will end."

Loach's call also comes on the heels of an open letter
signed by 18 writers expressing outrage against what is
described, at root, as "a long-term military, economic and
geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less
than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation."

Among the signatories are Harold Pinter, Jose Saramago,
Arundhati Roy, Gore Vidal, Russell Banks, Thomas Keneally
and Toni Morrison. The letter, which ends with a PS quoting
from Juliano Mer Khamis' documentary "Arna's Children" -
"Who is going to paint the 'Guernica' of Lebanon?" - has
been published in Le Monde, El Pais, The Independent, La
Repubblica and The Nation.

Man Dies In Co Clare Circus Accident

28 August 2006 22:44

A man in his mid-20s has been killed during a performance
of the Russian Circus in Scariff, Co Clare.

The man was performing a trapeze routine when one of the
ropes gave way and he fell onto some cages on the ground.

He was taken to Ennis General Hospital but was pronounced
dead on arrival.

The accident happened shortly after 7.30pm this evening.

The performance, which was part of a tour of Co Clare, was
attended by an audience of around 80 people.

Dark Days For Guinness

Owner could face calls to sell as Irish sales plummet

Owen Bowcott and Simon Bowers
Tuesday August 29, 2006
The Guardian

The drinks company behind Guinness is expected to reveal
this week that the tally of pints of "the black stuff"
drunk in Ireland has fallen by more than a quarter over the
past eight years.

The persistent decline, believed to have steepened this
year, is expected to resurrect calls for Diageo to put its
beer business up for sale. Some investors believe the
company should focus on its core spirit and wine brands
such as Smirnoff vodka, Blossom Hill wine, Captain Morgan
rum and Johnnie Walker whisky.

Guinness's local troubles in Ireland are expected to get
lost among strong performances elsewhere in the group when
Diageo reports full-year results on Thursday. Analysts
expect the world's biggest drinks firm to make pre-tax
profits of more than œ2bn, with good figures from Latin
America, Russia and Asia.

Worldwide, the amount of Guinness sold is actually expected
to rise, as Diageo introduces the stout in bottles and cans
to more markets, most recently Russia. It remains one of
the group's eight "global priority brands". But the decline
in its homeland is seen by many as undermining the brand

Ireland is the shop window where Diageo promotes Guinness
to visitors from around the world. It also trades off its
Irish roots overseas - not least in the US. Diageo's
Storehouse visitor centre in the Guinness brewery, on the
banks of the Liffey in Dublin, is said to be Ireland's most
popular tourist attraction. Tales about the role of the
river waters in creating the Guinness flavour have passed
into folklore and hordes of tourists seeking the essence of
Irish culture pursue a traditional pilgrimage to the place.
It is an obligatory stop on open-top bus tours.

Beguiled by the historical pageant of brand promotion,
visitors are mostly oblivious to the rapid domestic decline
in sales of Ireland's most famous liquid export. Bars are
closing and a new generation is buying lager, cider and
wine, and taking it home to drink.

Guinness's response has been to raise prices to defend its
profits, and to search out new customers by pumping out
fresh variants, while continuing to exploit nostalgia for
the traditional draught. Critics suspect it has succeeded
only in confusing loyal drinkers' tastebuds.

This month, Irish bars are serving Guinness "Toucan", a
brew which boasts "triple hops" for a smoother taste. Some
describe it as sweeter and less bitter. Other pubs still
offer Guinness Extra Cold, a pint that was designed to
boost consumption during hot summers when sales usually
fall back.

Meanwhile few opportunities are missed to trade on the
stout's glorious past. On the wall outside the Guinness
Storehouse, the public facade of the St James Gate brewery,
there are reproductions of classic posters reminding
visitors how it was once marketed as nutritious, wholesome
and pleasurable.

Guinness for Strength was the uplifting caption in one
famous campaign drawn by the artist John Gilroy in the
1930s, depicting a man balancing a steel girder above his
head. My Goodness, My Guinness was another above a picture
of a zookeeper failing to entice a bear down from a post:
the animal dismisses the offer of a bun as it cradles a

Inside the Storehouse visitors find a bewildering array of
Guinness merchandise. There are Guinness-emblazoned T-
shirts, jackets, footballs, rugby balls, golf balls,
clocks, socks, oven gloves, pants (in pink and white),
playing cards, cufflinks and fridge magnets. There are
Guinness slippers (in black and cream fake fur) and Toucan-
shaped salt and pepper sets. The piped music is invariably
an Irish jig. "Ten million glasses of Guinness are enjoyed
every day worldwide," the walls proclaim.

But in the bars of Dublin there is rather less euphoria.
"It's not selling as well as it used to years ago," says
the barman at the Auld Dubliner in Temple Bar, a street
buzzing with tourists and young Dubliners. "People say it's
an old man's drink. Sales of Murphy's [a rival stout from
Cork] are up. I remember 10 years ago, 70% of our draught
sales were Guinness. Now it's about 50%. It's ?4.50 a pint
here, but lager is ?5. So it's not the price."

One veteran lunchtime customer, Jimmy Foley, says he has
been drinking Guinness since he was 14. "It used to stick
to the counter years ago," he says. "It's thinned down a
bit. You get a good pint here, but in some pubs it's muck.
It's so variable. I keep asking publicans why that is."

Across the street at the Quays Bar, the owner, John
McSweeney, says Guinness is still his best seller, but
adds: "The population has changed so much. Pubs in the
suburbs have been badly affected by the smoking ban. There
may be more people coming to live here but there are fewer
going out drinking.

'People ask for chardonnay'

"A lot of people like cider. It's become very popular.
Magners has promoted its Irish cider and increased sales by
30%. Customers are also becoming more demanding about wine.
People ask for chardonnay or sauvignon blanc."

Declining bar and overall alcohol sales are blamed on a
series of changes: the smoking ban in pubs, stricter drink-
driving laws, greater consumption of wine, condemnation of
binge drinking and people taking home cut-price lager from
supermarkets and off-licences. The effect on Guinness has
been particularly severe because 90% is sold in Ireland as
draught; relatively little in cans or bottles.

In February Diageo revealed Irish Guinness sales had
dropped 9% in the first half of its financial year - the
steepest fall yet. Andrew Morgan, president of Diageo
Europe, had little hope of an imminent reversal.
"Historically, per-capita consumption has been very high
and we are likely to see a reduction in pints consumed in
an evening ... that is likely to continue." The group has
previously tinkered with marketing but appears to accept
consumer trends are running away from Guinness in Ireland.

The breweries have been left under-used. Two years ago
Diageo closed its Park Royal brewery in west London,
transferring brewing for Britain back to Dublin. Sales
declines in Ireland rather than Britain were behind the

At Toner's, a traditional bar around the corner from the
D il, politicians and civil servants are regulars. Jim
Costello is head barman. "Guinness is still our best
seller, but it's mainly for working people in their
thirties to fifties," he says. "The company messed up the
taste putting in the Extra Cold Guinness. Most bars, like
us, have had those taps taken out now ... it was

Back outside the Guinness Storehouse, a young Dubliner
tries to tempt departing tourists into a horse-drawn trap.
Does he drink Guinness? "No, I drink Budweiser," he says.
"Guinness may do you a power of good, but it's old-


Arthur Guinness started brewing stout at the St James Gate
brewery, Dublin, in 1759 after inheriting a dormant brewery
in his godfather's will. Little over a century later it was
the world's largest brewery and Arthur Guinness & Sons was
listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1990 the so-called
"Guinness Four" - Ernest Saunders, Sir Jack Lyons, Anthony
Parnes and Gerald Ronson - were convicted of conspiring to
ramp up the share price during a œ2.6bn bid for rival firm
Distillers. In 1997, Guinness entered into a œ24bn merger
with another drinks group, Grand Met, and the group was
renamed Diageo. The company asserted its dominance of the
drinks trade in 2003 by buying Seagram. Today, its newly
built headquarters in Park Royal, west London, towers over
an empty Guinness brewery, a much-loved 1930s building.
Closed two years ago, it was sold to developers last week.

'President Bartlet' To Study At Irish University

THE West Wing star Martin Sheen will begin studying next
month at a university in Ireland.

Sheen, who played US president Jed Bartlet in the award-
winning TV series, has enrolled for a degree in English
literature, philosophy and oceanography at the National
University Ireland (NUI), in Galway.

A spokesman confirmed yesterday that Sheen, 66, who has
appeared in such films as Apocalypse Now and Wall Street
was due to start his course in September.

The actor, whose mother came from County Tipperary, has
been quoted as saying he wanted to finish his education
when he retired from acting because he had never completed
his high school diploma.

Last year, NUI conferred an honorary degree on Sheen -
whose real name is Ramon Estevez - for both his acting and
"his consistent and meaningful engagement with civil
society". A dedicated supporter of liberal causes, Sheen
has been arrested more than 60 times for public protests.

Car Rental And Insurance Firms Warned About Ban On Elderly

Anne Lucey and Marie O'Halloran

The Equality Authority has warned car rental and insurance
companies against putting blanket bans on people because of
their age.

The authority's chief executive, Niall Crowley, says it is
discriminatory to refuse to quote someone for insurance
based solely on an upper age limit, following a case
successfully taken by the authority in 2003. "There is a
very strong precedent for this," he said. His comments came
as it emerged that elderly holidaymakers visiting Ireland
are encountering significant problems trying to rent
vehicles and car rental companies have refused them because
of their age.

Gerard Scully of Age Action Ireland said insurance
companies and underwriters for car hire companies use age
as a criterion in Ireland. Car hire companies claimed
underwriters would not insure older people, he said.

The age limits for the elderly were increasingly affecting
the tourist market as a growing number of older people were

"With more older people travelling now it is a significant
problem," he said.

The issue was raised after an 80-year-old man was refused a
rental car because of his age.

Donal O'Connor, a native of Brosna, Co Kerry, who emigrated
to Boston in 1947 travels regularly between his native
village and the US. Last year at the age of 79 when
arriving at Shannon airport he was warned by Hertz it could
be his last time renting a car from them because of
insurance problems.

Mr O'Connor, who turned 80 in December has medical
certificates to prove his fitness and drives in the US.
However, this summer he was unable to rent a car in
Ireland. He feels restricted and discriminated against
because of his age.

"Up to now when I'd come to Shannon airport, I'd rent a car
drive down and turn the key in the old homestead," the
retired electrician said.

According to Hertz "unfortunately" they could not rent cars
to persons over the age of 80 because of insurance
problems. Between the ages of 75 and 79 persons wishing to
rent a car must have a letter from their doctor and their
insurance company. The situation was different in the US.
There people who were over 80 could rent a car, the
spokeswoman at the Hertz head office said. Other companies
also have an upper age limit. Avis car rental stops quoting
people for car rental above 74-years-of-age.

But Mr Crowley pointed to the 2003 case where a 77-year-old
man won a case against the Royal and Sun Alliance insurance
company for its refusal to offer him car insurance. The
Equality Tribunal also found that a ban against people over
70 operated by the company was discriminatory under the
2000 Equal Status Act.

"We also successfully used that precedent against a company
that refused to quote for travel insurance based solely on

"Insurance has emerged as a significant issue, particularly
on cars and particularly on age grounds," said Mr Crowley.

"It is a priority area for us and were are taking a number
of cases on this issue."

The Irish Times

Great Book Of Gaelic Show Opens

Alison Healy

The Great Book of Gaelic, which is being described as a
modern Book of Kells, is to be exhibited around Co Clare
from next week.

The Leabhar M¢r Project brings together the work of Irish
and Scottish artists, poets, calligraphers and

Some 100 poems were chosen from leading modern Gaelic poets
and 100 artists were asked to create work in response to
these poems.

The four-year project involves work from artists such as
Robert Ballagh, Deirdre O'Mahony, Tom Fitzgerald and Ronnie

It was launched in Glasgow in 2002 and was later sent on a
five-year touring international exhibition.

It has spawned a website (, a TV
documentary, a series of BBC radio programmes, a music CD,
and a schools pack.

The project has been developed by the Gaelic Arts Agency
"Proiseact Nan Ealan". Its director Malcolm MacLean said
the work "celebrates the richness of the Gaelic language
and how it is perceived by contemporary artists".

Siobh n Mulcahy, arts officer with Clare County Council,
said these links between Gaelic artists were particularly
relevant to Clare as the county was twinned with the
Scottish Western Isles.

The month-long exhibition will open in the Gl¢r Irish Music
Centre, Ennis on Monday and will also be housed at the De
Valera Library in Ennis and the new gallery at Ennistymon

c The Irish Times

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