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August 29, 2006

Parties May Face Hothouse Talks

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 08/30/06 North Parties May Face 'Hothouse' Talks
BB 08/29/06 Call For Single NI Economy Body
IN 08/29/06 British Had Dublin Bombers In Custody
BB 08/29/06 McIlveen Suspects 'Under Threat'
DI 08/29/06 Community Peace Work Is Praised By President
DI 08/29/06 PSNI GAA Game Is ‘Just A Match’
DI 08/29/06 Opin: Take Five: Lessons Of History
AS 08/29/06 Architects Imagine A "Super-Rural" Ireland In 2030
RO 08/29/06 New Online Map Archive Available
BN 08/29/06 Bishop Casey Cleared Of Sex Abuse Charges
IT 08/30/06 Call For Miners Who Are Ill To Get Benefit


North Parties May Face 'Hothouse' Talks

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Ahern and Blair consider Scottish venue for meeting to
persuade DUP and SF to agree deal

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony
Blair are considering holding "hothouse" talks with the
North's parties in Scotland in the second week in October
in an effort to persuade the DUP and Sinn Féin to sign up
to a deal to restore devolution, senior political sources
have stated.

The talks would start on either the Monday or Tuesday of
October 9th or 10th - some days after the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC) publishes what is expected to
be a positive report that the IRA is continuing to disavow
paramilitarism and criminality, sources told The Irish

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair hope that such an IMC report would be
the catalyst to convince DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley
that he should agree before the governments' deadline of
November 24th to enter a power-sharing Northern Executive
with Sinn Féin, as well as with the Ulster Unionist Party
and the SDLP.

The governments have hosted similar intensive talks at
critical times of the peace process at secluded locations,
most notably at Weston Park in Shropshire, England, in
2001. Mr Ahern and Mr Blair believe that bringing
politicians out of Northern Ireland for such negotiations
frees the politicians from public scrutiny and to a lesser
extent from media inspection.

Senior sources said the first week in October was earmarked
for talks and officials were seeking a venue in Scotland,
although the parties have yet to agree to such a meeting.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has described as "nonsense" claims
that it was instrumental in forcing the postponement of a
meeting of dissident republicans scheduled for a venue in
Toomebridge, Co Antrim, last night.

Paddy Murray, of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, which
is linked to the Real IRA, said yesterday that "Provisional
republicans" prevented the organisers of the meeting from
obtaining a suitable venue in Toomebridge.

He said the meeting would be rescheduled. The purpose of
the aborted meeting, he added, was to try to forge a united
front among anti-Belfast Agreement or dissident republicans
and to shape a future ideological policy.

Mr Murray, who was criticised by Sinn Féin as well as
unionist and SDLP politicians for organising controversial
republican parades in Ballymena, Co Antrim, this summer and
last summer, said the meeting was designed to debate
whether dissident republicans should pursue a "paramilitary
or political path" or both, and that members of the Real
IRA and Continuity IRA as well as INLA members would have
attended the meeting. "It would have allowed left-wing
anti-Stormont republicans to come together," he added.

He said the meeting would have confirmed reports that up to
40 IRA members in south Derry had defected from the
organisation. Republican sources described these claims as
"nonsense". Mr Murray, a convicted IRA bombmaker who is
currently on bail on kidnapping charges, said several of
those who had reportedly defected from the IRA were
planning to attend the meeting of dissidents.

British and Irish security personnel still see the Real IRA
and Continuity IRA as posing a significant paramilitary
threat. Recent months have seen an increase in dissident
paramilitary attacks, including the planting of a bomb at
the home of Ulster Unionist peer Lord Ballyedmond in Co
Louth and firebomb attacks in Newry.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said Mr Murray and other dissidents
"can organise meetings wherever they like - it is nothing
to do with us".

© The Irish Times


Call For Single NI Economy Body

Responsibility for NI's economy should be centralised
within a single government department or agency, a Stormont
all-party group has said.

At the moment, it is divided between seven different
government departments.

The group also acknowledged that lack of cross-party
agreement over devolution and policing issues would hinder
business investment.

The report by the economic sub-group of the Preparation for
Government Committee contains 21 recommendations.

Other proposals include tax incentives to encourage high
value-added foreign investment, grants for research and
development in collaboration with the universities and
improved science education.

They also called for the Planning Service to take account
of the needs of the economy.

Further investigation

The committee wants to investigate further the issue of low
corporation tax in the Irish Republic.

It recommends that any economic package accompanying a
restoration of devolution should focus on community
regeneration, infrastructure development, education and
skills as well as tax incentives.

All five parties on the sub-group have agreed the report
but it is still being discussed by the main Preparation for
Government Committee.

It is understood Sinn Fein want more specific details on
the nature of a peace dividend before agreeing to debate
the sub-group's report in the Stormont Assembly chamber
next month.

The Preparation for Government Committee was set up to
identify obstacles to the return of devolution. It has been
meeting over the summer months.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/29 19:51:47 GMT


British Had Dublin Bombers In Custody

By Barry McCaffrey

FAMILIES of victims of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings
demanded a public apology last night after it emerged that
the Brit-ish government had known the bombers’ identities
but failed to bring them to justice.

Thirty-three people were killed and 258 others injured in
May 1974 when the UVF planted four no-warning car bombs in
Dublin and Monaghan.

It was the single biggest loss of life on one day during
the Troubles, though no-one was ever charged with the

However, The Irish News has obtained a Northern Ireland
Off-ice memo confirming that the British government knew
the id-entities of the killers within four months of the
attack. The secret government papers, marked confidential,
relate to a meeting be-tween British and Irish government
officials in September 1974.

British prime minister Harold Wilson, Secretary of State
Merlyn Rees and Irish ministers Dr Garret FitzGerald and
Jim Tully were all present.

In what is thought to be the first official recognition
that the Brit-ish knew the identities of the UVF gang, the
memo states: "The Secretary of State [Merlyn Rees] said he
was able to inform the Irish ministers, in confidence, that
the 25 ICOs [internment orders] he had signed during the
UWC [Ulster Workers Council] Strike strike included the
persons he believed to be responsible for the Dublin

The memo adds: "He was unable to state this in public
because of the nature of the evidence."

The meeting was referred to in the Irish government-
sponsored Barron report, which probed the handling of the
case, though neither the document nor its contents were
ever made public.

Margaret Urwin, a spokeswoman for the Dublin/Monaghan
victims’ families, called on the British government to
explain why the bombers escaped justice.

"The outgoing British ambassador in Ireland, Stewart Eldon,
recently claimed his government had failed to cooperate
with the Dublin/Monaghan inquiries be-cause of national
security issues. We have now asked the Taoiseach to raise
this issue with Tony Blair," she said.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh demanded full disclosure
from the British government.

"These revelations raise very serious issues about the
conduct of both the British and Irish governments in the
aftermath of the bombings," he said.

n Meanwhile, a meeting of dissident republicans due to take
place in Co Antrim tonight has been cancelled at short

Members of the Real IRA and Continuity IRA had been
planning to meet at a venue in Toomebridge along with other
republicans disillusioned with the Sinn Fein leadership.


McIlveen Suspects 'Under Threat'

Death threats have been issued to the seven people charged
over the death of Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen, the
High Court has heard.

The revelation was made by a Crown lawyer in a case
involving the only defendant to be granted bail.

The 16-year-old juvenile was accused of fighting and
causing an affray before the 15-year-old was murdered last

His application to get bail revoked was granted as he could
no longer live with his grandparents for domestic reasons.

The boy had been released earlier this month to live with
them in England after the court was told that it was unsafe
for him to return to his Ballymena home.

The boy's solicitor applied to have his bail revoked from
Thursday, when he is due to return to Northern Ireland for
a remand hearing.

The judge said he was reluctant to do this, as the courts
were under an obligation to young people to try and ensure
they remained in a family environment.

Although he did revoke bail, he said the case would be
reviewed on 14 September to see if alternative
accommodation could be found outside Ballymena.

Michael McIlveen died after being attacked by a gang in the
town on 7 May.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/29 14:44:48 GMT


Community Peace Work Is Praised By President


President Mary McAleese yesterday praised the nationalist
and unionist communities in the North for their peace-
building efforts.

She was speaking at a conference in Belfast organised to
discuss steps to protect children’s welfare.

Mrs McAleese said people could learn from the inspirational
example of Belfast.

She said: "A new generation with the anguished wisdom that
comes from decades of violent conflict has set a very
different agenda for its children.

"This generation wants peace with urgency, good-
neighbourliness, respect for difference and tolerance, a
city that is a happy and safe home for everyone.

"It is a city in transition, and the change of mood, of
language and of practice has been brought about by people
who have wrought the changes in themselves," she said.

She added that leaders from the unionist and nationalist
communities had made compromises, attempted to forgive
awful wounds and sought to ensure that today’s children
could grow up good friends and neighbours living in peace
and shared prosperity.

"There were so many who believed it could not be done but
we give thanks for those who believed it could and who
worked and keep on working to give Belfast’s children a
future to be proud of," she said.

Mrs McAleese was one of the key speakers at the week-long
World Congress of the International Association of Youth
and Family Judges and Magistrates.

The congress is held every four years and is being held in
Ireland for the first time.

Five hundred delegates from 50 countries from five
continents are discussing the protection of children’s

The congress includes experts on working with children,
families and youth justice.

British constitutional affairs minister Charles Falconer
said during the event yesterday that his government would
legislate against organised gangs that are trafficking
children into Britain and the North.

The increasing exploitation of young people from around the
world will be the subject of a plan being drawn up by
Britain’s Home Office and expected to be announced shortly.

Lord Falconer said the development of the internet and the
increasing mobility of people made it easier to smuggle
young people into the state.

"The Home Office intends to publish the UK national action
plan… to safeguard child victims of human trafficking," he

He added that the British government had empowered police
and other agencies to implement by force of the law efforts
to catch traffickers.

Lord Falconer said those found guilty could be sentenced to
14 years in prison.

"The development of the internet and the increased movement
of people across the world threatens the welfare and safety
of children, who are more easily exploited and more easily
abducted," he said.

"We in the UK will not tolerate child trafficking but it
can’t be effectively addressed unless the effort is cross-

Lord Falconer heads the courts system in England, Wales and
the North.


PSNI GAA Game Is ‘Just A Match’


A WELL-KNOWN GAA figure says the association should embrace
the PSNI’s Gaelic football team.

Former Derry all-Ireland winner Joe Brolly is scheduled to
play for his club, St Brigid’s in Belfast, against the PSNI
Gaelic football team in a historic game on Thursday.

It will be the first game ever staged between the PSNI team
and a Northern club team.

In an interview in today’s Daily Ireland, Mr Brolly — whose
parents Francie and Ann are high-profile Sinn Féin
activists — said he had no problem taking part in the

"I have no conflict whatsoever about playing in this game.

"Surely the whole point of creating a civilised society is
to get rid of sectarianism and bigotry and small-
mindedness," he said.

"What would I be saying to my youngsters if I was saying:
‘No, there is no way I’ll turn out against these black
bastards’? We need to stamp out sectarianism and small-
mindedness and continue to normalise."

Mr Brolly, who is a Gaelic games pundit on RTÉ, highlighted
that the PSNI had already played in soccer leagues in the

"Catholic soccer teams from republican areas have been
playing PSNI teams for years. What is the difference?
Donegal Celtic is only one. Nearly every lad who plays for
a soccer team in the west of the city will sooner or later
be playing in staunchly loyalist areas against essentially
loyalist teams. The PSNI have been playing the guards in
the South. The people of Ireland have no difficulty with
that. Their cadets compete in the Sigerson Cup. It is no
big deal.

"If you look at the political developments there have been.
The IRA is on permanent ceasefire now. They stood down. The
weapons are encased in concrete to the satisfaction of the
British and Irish governments. Sinn Féin are absolutely
committed to a parliament in Stormont with the long-term
aim being the peaceful process of persuasion to move
towards a united Ireland. And we are not allowed to play a
match against the cops?

"Should we all be joining the Continuity IRA in droves and
burning furniture stores in Newry? Is that the way forward
for us?

"What is wrong with showing plenty of confidence and
optimism about ourselves and letting our fellow man live
the way he wants to live?"


Opin: Take Five: Lessons Of History

By Tommy McKearney

The official website of Britain’s Special Branch
( claims that when
it was formed in 1883 as the Metropolitan Police Special
Irish Branch, its original purpose was, "to combat, on a
national basis, a ‘Fenian' (Irish) campaign of terrorism
which was prevalent on the UK mainland at the time". This
description, while flawed, is instructive. The casual
juxtaposition of Fenian and Irish is informative and the
continued use of the condescendingly imperialistic term
"mainland", speaks volumes about the mentality, not to
mention competency of Britain’s security police.

Just think about it. You would expect that since it was
founded in the 19th century to deal with events arising
from what was then known as the Irish question, the Branch
would have acquired some understanding of this country.
Yet, here it is, 123 years later and still blending the
terms Fenian and Irish while apparently under the
impression that Ireland is a mere, offshore appendage of a
British motherland.

When the Branch was formed, its average member would have
shared the contemporary British establishment’s far from
flattering view of the Irish. Victorian England believed
that the Irish peasantry was in such thrall to a
superstitious and ignorant Roman Catholicism that the
population was easily led and volatile. This gave rise to
the view the Irish were, therefore, culturally hostile
towards democracy. Since there also existed a view in
England that Irish people were congenitally predisposed
towards violence, it followed that, for its own good,
Ireland had to be governed from London.

Few British people still believe that the Irish are
incapable of self-government. Our more enlightened
neighbours would have no hesitation in admitting that
Ireland’s difficulties were caused by imperialism’s
predatory behaviour and not by any defect in the natives’
character. Indeed, the current prime minister and his
supporters would very likely also share this progressive

The question must therefore be asked, why do they tell us
that their "war on terror" is in response to an irrational
onslaught by a religious fanaticism that loves battle and
hates democracy? Even dullards understand that invasion and
exploitation provokes retaliation, some justifiable and
some not, but all predictable. Clearly, the Branch is not
alone in needing to brush up on the lesson taught by Irish


Architects Imagine A "Super-Rural" Ireland In 2030

Archiseek / Ireland / News / 2006 / August 30

One third of all homes in Ireland have been built since
1995, the great majority of them outside the major urban
centres. This free-market, unsustainable solution to
housing throughout the island has resulted in sub-urban
sprawl: choking our urban centres, devastating the
countryside and destroying our traditional sense of
community. But are there new models for development that
have been overlooked?

The nine Irish architectural practices that are
representing Ireland at the prestigious Venice Biennale
10th International Architecture exhibition from September
10th think so. Curated by FKL Architects for the Irish
Architecture Foundation and supported by Culture Ireland,
the Arts Council, the Devey Group, the RIAI and Tegral,
Ireland's exhibition in the 2006 Venice Architectural
Biennale features nine projects and scenarios that imagine
and illustrate a vision of how our SubUrban island can
evolve into a 'SuperRural' one between now and 2030.

Fluidcity by Dominic Stevens Architect is a river Shannon-
borne caravanserai of amenities, bringing the city to a
much increased riverside population once a week. MacGabhann
Architects' Tideaways proposes 'sinkable' seaside holiday
villages in Donegal that are only visible when occupied,
disappearing into the ground when nobody's at home.
Heneghan Peng suggest building a high-speed rail bridge
from Rosslare to Fishguard to turn Dublin into an
ElastiCity stretched along the Irish Sea instead of a blob
spreading out over the midlands. Demographics
(Henchion+Reuter Architects) suggests concentrating
Ireland's population strictly within a five city penta-zone
that could support Danish-style high-speed trains to
'shrink' Ireland - travel time from Dublin to Sligo would
go from 3h20m to 48 minutes!

While some of the exhibitions propose solutions, others
pose questions. 26+1 by Boyd Cody Architects asks what we
would do if we could start from scratch with an extra,
empty county. dePaor Architects' tall-house looks at the
impact a planning law change to ban all footprint extension
outside urban areas might have: what if you could only
build up or down, not out?

And what if we do nothing at all? Vertical Sprawl by ODOS
Architects is a cautionary tale, in comic-book style, of
what happens when horizontal suburban expansion is no
longer possible in 2030.

Ireland's entry has been commissioned by the Irish
Architecture Foundation at the invitation of Culture
Ireland. Culture Ireland Director Mary McCarthy noted 'as a
newly formed body, Culture Ireland is delighted to partner
with the Irish Architecture Foundation in raising these
pertinent questions which are shaping Ireland's
contemporary culture.'

To coincide with the opening of Ireland's entry in the
Padiglione Italia, Giardini di Castello, Venice, a special
section of the Irish Architecture Foundation's website has
been created and will go live on September 6, 2006:


New Online Map Archive Available

August 29, 2006

Ireland's past will come to life Wednesday when the Irish
government plans to unveil an online map archive with
details of every town, street, and farm on the Emerald Isle
dating back nearly 200 years - an unprecedented achievement
expected to be a treasure trove for those tracing their
Irish ancestry.

For 5 euros a day, roughly $6.40, computer users can access
visual images of more than 30,000 maps of Irish localities
dating back to 1824, a database cobbled together from the
vast archival holdings of the government and universities
in Ireland. Users can search the database by zooming in on
maps, or using key terms, to pinpoint where their relatives
once lived, eliminating often fruitless searches in
Ireland's aging paper archives, which are spread out among
several facilities and often consume time that could be
spent visiting ancestral hometowns.

And for those not inclined to travel, the database alone
offers rich details about 19th century life in Irish
neighborhoods: individual plots of land, cemeteries,
schools, hospitals, businesses, factories, wells - even
trees and bushes are mapped out.

The first public demonstration of the project will occur at
a reception Wednesday evening in downtown Boston at the
outset of a four-day genealogy conference. Free
demonstrations will occur at the Hynes Veterans Convention
Center during the run of the conference, which ends

"These maps represent the world's first large-scale
`historical~ mapping of an entire country," said Malachy
McVeigh, senior operations manager at Ireland's Ordnance
Survey Ireland, akin to the US Census Bureau, which owns
and operates the database.

Irish government officials said they expect Massachusetts
to be a source of enormous traffic on the Web portal to the
maps, About 23 percent of the
state's population has Irish roots, the heaviest
concentration in the United States.

Michael P. Quinlin of the Boston Irish Tourism Association
said lack of preparation often leads to absurd results:
"You have Americans showing up in an Irish city and asking
if there are any O'Learys living there. Well, that hardly
narrows it down."

Even with the new online historical maps, tracing roots to
Ireland requires a fair amount of sleuthing.

Mary E. Choppa, president of The Irish Ancestral Research
Association, based in Boston, said the search often begins
with the county in Ireland, which many families know or can
easily find out. Then, they must narrow the search using US
immigration records, church records, and other data to
locate an ancestral town or, better yet, a neighborhood or
a street. But often, old addresses and farms, and even
streets, no longer exist on current maps.

The online maps, however, can lead people to the locations
of their ancestors' dwellings and provide details about the
life they might have led.

"The maps are so detailed, you can see where their church
was, where their house was, what their surroundings were,"
said Choppa, who last year used just such a map to trace
her family to the town of Carriv in County Armagh. "It's
sort of an emotional connection. ... It's a connection with
the past."

Richard Kirwan, a management consultant to Ordnance Survey
Ireland, said the online map project began in 2003 after
government officials noticed two trends.

"The maps were starting to deteriorate," he said. "At the
same time, we saw a huge expansion of people who wanted to
trace their Irish ancestry."

The survey team painstakingly scanned the maps, most of
them in storage at Trinity College, the National Library of
Ireland, and the Royal Irish Academy, all in Dublin.

The maps span two eras, from 1824 to 1847, and from 1888 to

"This could save you a lot of money if you're going to come
to Ireland to search for your roots," said McVeigh.

The unveiling will occur during the national conference of
the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the New
England Historic Genealogical Society. But it was the
conference's setting that prompted Irish officials to make
their announcement this week.

"Where better than Boston?" said Quinlin. "It is the
capital of Irish America."


Record Numbers Declaring Bankrupt

Record numbers of people in Northern Ireland are declaring
themselves bankrupt as credit card spending continues to

More people are entering individual voluntary arrangements
(IVAs) to escape some of the effects of crippling debt.

IVAs are an alternative to bankruptcy that allows debtors
to come to an agreement with their creditors.

Almost 900 NI people went bankrupt in 2005-2006 - a rise of
30%, Citizens' Advice Bureau told BBC News Online.

The number of IVAs entered into was 668 - an increase of
almost 40%.

Bankruptcy orders have been served on almost 100 people in
NI in the past month alone, according to the Belfast-based
Irish News.

The latest list of bankruptcy orders includes civil
servants, farmers, taxi drivers, engineers, road hauliers
and retailers.

Scott Kennerley, money advice development officer with
Citizens' Advice (CAB), said there were several possible
reasons why IVAs had had "increased dramatically".

"Firstly, there has been increased media coverage of
bankruptcy as a possible solution to a person's debt
problem, so more and more people are looking into it.

"Years ago bankruptcy carried a stigma which in today's
society has diminished somewhat."

"Also, there is improved access to quality more advice from
the advice sector. Citizens Advice has recently been
awarded a contract from the DETI which will see the
provision of 12 full time money advisers across Northern

'Change in the law'

CAB warned bankruptcy was not something to be entered into
lightly and people must seek advice.

"It is a legal procedure that could lead to an individual
losing their home," said Mr Kennerley.

Compulsory liquidations and bankruptcies rose from 280 in
2002, 350 in 2003, 582 in 2004 and 685 from 2004-2005 - an
increase of 18%, said the Insolvency Service.

However, the number of court orders for the winding up of
companies in Northern Ireland in 2004-2005 was 72 - a
decrease of 14%.

Some debt experts have suggested that going bankrupt is an
easier option because of a change in the law in 2004.

Under the Enterprise Act, bankrupts can now find themselves
discharged after just one year, down from three.

Experts have blamed greater personal debt for the rise in

SDLP assembly member Eugene McMenamin accused the
government of "standing idly by and allowing credit card
companies to bleed ordinary working class families dry".

"Recent increases in 'penalties' show clearly that there is
no skin left on their faces and the practice of fining
people for late payments and exceeding credit limits is out
of control with evidence of constraint," he said.

Joe McDonald of the Ulster Farmers' Union said while it had
not seen specific figures for bankruptcy within the
industry, the level of debt in agriculture in Northern
Ireland had reached £650m.

"The industry is carrying a very heavy burden - farmers are
making capital investment in their farms, with new sheds,
buildings and machinery," he said.

"It is a significant and worrying level of debt in the
agricultural industry and on farming families."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/29 13:25:54 GMT


Bishop Casey Cleared Of Sex Abuse Charges

29/08/2006 - 15:26:57

Bishop Caasey has been cleared of sex abuse charges, it was
confirmed today.

Eamonn Casey, the former Bishop of Galway, will not face
prosecution after gardaí investigated the allegations
dating back more than 30 years made against him by a
middle-aged woman.

Dr Casey, who fled to South America in 1992 after it
emerged he had fathered a son during an affair with an
American divorcee, was serving in the Diocese of Arundel
and Brighton in England last November when the claims

He stood aside from active ministry as per diocesan
guidelines when the allegations were made and the garda
investigation got underway. He vigorously denied the

A spokesman for the Catholic Communications Office today
said: "The Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not
to proceed with the case against Bishop Eamonn Casey."

It is believed the Limerick-born woman made similar
unproven allegations against other people in the past.

Under Catholic Church guidelines, it will now begin its own
probe of the allegations.
Bishop Casey, 78, has already expressed his eagerness to
return to ministry and say Mass in public again.

In February last year he returned to live in Ireland after
being exiled for over a decade after his affair with Annie

He publicly apologised for any hurt caused by his affair
with Ms Murphy as he moved to the Parish of Shanaglish at
Beagh in south Galway.

During the secret relationship with Ms Murphy, which began
in the early 1970s, the couple had a son, Peter, and it was
alleged that church funds were used to pay the Bishop’s
maintenance costs.

When the matter became public, Bishop Casey resigned his
post as Bishop of Galway and left for a missionary post in
Ecuador. He later moved to England where he acted as a
curate and chaplain in the Sussex parish of Stapleford.

After standing down in May 1992, he lived in the United
States, Mexico, Ecuador and England. During the time he
made low-key visits to Ireland.


Call For Miners Who Are Ill To Get Benefit

Fiona Gartland

Some 350 miners who worked in the coal pits around Sliabh
Ardagh, Co Tipperary, are facing illness in old age and
should be compensated, a Government deputy has said.

Ballingarry pits closed in 1991. According to deputy
Michael Smith, former coal miners are suffering from
illnesses caused by years of working in the pits before
modern health and safety standards were introduced.

He said he had received several representations from local
miners who now suffer from illnesses such as pneumoconiosis
(black lung disease), bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.

The men also suffer from industrial strain injuries such as
tinnitus, brought on by poor ear protection while using or
being close to machinery, and damage caused to blood supply
and muscles by vibrating tools.

Some 19 miners are in receipt of disablement benefit under
the Department of Social and Family Affairs occupational
injuries benefit as a result of pneumoconiosis. However
some of the illnesses caused by the miners' working
conditions, such as bronchitis and emphysema, are not on
the department's list of occupational prescribed diseases,
and so sufferers do not qualify for the benefit scheme.

The benefit is, in any case, a meagre allowance, according
to Mr Smith.

"The miners often worked in cramped and suffocating
conditions and suffered the effects of noise and vibrating
tools. It was a different era as far as health and safety
was concerned; there was a lot of innocence about what
could cause damage."

He suggested that a compensation board be established to
award payments to miners suffering from health problems
brought on by their work.

© The Irish Times

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