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August 02, 2006

Sinn Fein Councillor Defiant Over Threat

News About Ireland & The Irish

CB 08/03/06 Sinn Fein Councillor Defiant Over Threat
BB 08/02/06 Nationalist Concern Over Marches
SF 08/02/06 11 Year Old Terrorised By PSNI
SF 08/02/06 Gerry Adams Launches Community Off-Sales Initiative
CB 08/03/06 Eleven Year Old DNA Tested By Police
IE 08/02/06 Irish In America Are 'Under Siege'
BB 08/02/06 Third Suspect Charged With Murder
BB 08/02/06 Row Over 'Leisure Centre Rally'
DI 08/02/06 Opin: GAA Must Stand Firm On Rally Plans
DI 08/02/06 Opin: Put An End To This Aggression
IT 08/03/06 Opin: The Decline Of The B&B
IT 08/03/06 Opin: Saga Of The Diaries Has Clouded Legacy Of Casement
BB 08/02/06 Casement: Traitor Or Patriot?
IO 08/02/06 Ahern Confident Of Winning Next Year’s Election
IT 08/03/06 Waterford Coast Bonfires To Mark 200 Yrs Of Signal Towers


Sinn Fein Councillor Defiant Over Threat

Published on 03/08/2006

A death threat has been made against a Sinn Fein councillor
in Northern Ireland, she claimed.

Monica Digney, the first republican elected in Ballymena,
Co Antrim, said it was posted to council headquarters.

With the staunchly Protestant town still scarred from the
murder of Catholic schoolboy Michael McIlveen in May, Ms
Digney implied sectarian bigots were to blame.

And she urged the rest of the staunchly unionist council to
support her publicly.

She said: "I have been made aware of a postcard which was
delivered to the Ballymena Borough Council offices carrying
a threat to my life.

"I take all such threats extremely seriously, given that
Ballymena has been a hotbed of sectarianism and loyalist
thuggery over the years, and more recently with the brutal
sectarian murder of young Michael McIlveen.

"I call upon my colleagues in Ballymena council to stand
with me and face down the threats which have been made."

Ballymena's reputation has been under intense scrutiny
since Michael, 15, was beaten to death.

His murder provoked searing condemnation of sectarianism in
the town.

But Ms Digney vowed to defy those responsible.

"I am very proud to have been the first Sinn Fein
councillor elected to Ballymena council and will not allow
this death threat to hinder me from the work I have been
elected to do," she said.

"Sinn Fein elected representatives have never allowed
threats or intimidation to prevent us from highlighting
inequality or discrimination and pressing ahead with our
vision of a united and independent country."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to give any
details on the incident.

A spokesman said: "We never comment on threats made against

"When we become aware of a threat we inform the individual

By Barrá Best


Nationalist Concern Over Marches

Nationalists in Londonderry have voiced concerns about
several feeder parades taking place before the main
Apprentice Boys demonstration in the city.

The Bogside Residents Group have described marches in
Maghera and Castlederg as "coat-trailing exercises".

Apprentice Boys in Castlederg have said they have a right
to celebrate their culture and heritage in the town.

The Londonderry parade is to be held on Saturday 12 August.

Sinn Fein councillor Charlie McHugh said there was no need
for the demonstrations to take place.

"In order to go to Derry, a good 45 minutes from
Castlederg, they actually form up at the southern most end
of Castlederg," he said.

"(They) parade through the town centre and travel westward
in order to flaunt their flags through an area where they
are not welcome."

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Derek Hussey said the
Apprentice Boys have traditionally held a parade in
Castlederg before going to the main demonstration in

"I am absolutely aghast that the Bogside Residents Group is
concerning itself with events outside Londonderry," he

"We in Castlederg are celebrating our heritage, we don't
see why the residents group should be concerning itself
with issues within our community."

The Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry commemorates the
actions of Protestant Apprentice Boys who shut the city
gates against the forces of the Catholic King James in
December 1688.

King James laid siege to the city from December to August
1689 until the Protestant forces of King William of Orange
relieved the city.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 14:59:17 GMT


11 Year Old Terrorised By PSNI

Published: 2 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Page has said that treatment of
an eleven year old girl by the PSNI for writing her name on
the wall was unbelievable.

Councillor Page said,

"The treatment of this young child by the PSNI for
scribbling her name on graffiti filled wall beggar's
belief. The girl and her two young friends were taken by
heavily armed PSNI in separate cars to their homes where
the PSNI informed the parents to bring them to Strand Road

"At the barracks the mother of the young girl was
threatened with arrest if they did not agree with an
interview. The child was then interviewed, photographed had
her DNA and shoe size taken before being released. This is
the type of treatment one would expect for someone charged
with a serious crime such as murder or robbery not on a
child for writing her name on a wall.

"I believe that this action may have been prompted by the
fact that one of the children wrote her name in Irish".

"While the problem of graffiti needs to be addressed this
heavy handed approach to a child exposes the fact that the
new beginning to policing has not been achieved.

"This young girl has been completely traumatised by her
ordeal as has her family over an issue that could have been
handled in a more sensitive manner given the fact that a
child was involved.

"I would urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar
situation never to go into a PSNI barracks without legal
advice present." ENDS


Gerry Adams Launches Community Off-Sales Initiative

Published: 2 August, 2006

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams this morning helped
launch the Community Off-Sales initiative aimed at reducing
the availability of alcohol to young people.

Speaking after the event Mr. Adams said:

"I wholeheartedly support the launch of today's initiative
by the Falls Community Council and FASA (Forum for Action
on Substance Abuse - Shankill Rd- based).

"I also welcome the support of all those off-licences who
have come on board with the scheme. There is a major
responsibility on all those who sell alcohol within our
communities to support this initiative.

"The Community Off-sales Initiative was first launched 6
years ago in response to a growing concern about the sale
of alcohol to young people. The initiative established
voluntary criteria which the off-sales agreed to abide by
and which were intended to make it more difficult for young
people to purchase alcohol.

"However, in recent times there has been a marked increase
in the number of young people accessing alcohol and the
anti-social problems associated with this are also on the

"The re-launch of the initiative is a response to the
present widespread concern from within local communities
across north and west Belfast at the rise in alcohol abuse,
particularly among young people. I commend these
communities in coming together to give leadership on this

"It is right and essential that communities are at the
centre of such initiatives. Those who sell alcohol in an
irresponsible way should find it as no surprise that the
community will empower itself to address this issue. It is
local communities who are left to deal with the
consequences of such irresponsible and anti-social

"This initiative is also set in the context of the proposed
liberalising of the licensing laws.

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the proposed relaxing of
the laws around the sale of alcohol which will see shops,
supermarkets and other retail outlets selling alcohol. Sinn
Fein has produced a comprehensive policy which among other
positions opposes any extension of opening hours for the
sale of alcohol, seeks the introduction of a strict code of
conduct, the annual renewal of licences, and a programme of
education and information aimed particularly at the young.

"The welfare of children, young people and families must
come before the profits of the alcohol industry or the
revenue income from alcohol sales.

"Finally let me once again applaud and endorse the efforts
of the Falls Community Council, FASA and those off-sales
who have committed to this initiative and I would appeal to
all of those off-licences, pubs and clubs which sell
alcohol and have not so far come on board to abide by off-
sales initiative proposals and to work with the community
in tackling this serious problem." ENDS


Eleven Year Old DNA Tested By Police

Published on 03/08/2006

A schoolgirl underwent DNA testing by police who questioned
her about writing her name on a graffiti-covered wall in
Londonderry, her family said last night.

Her father is seeking an urgent meeting with Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde and the Northern Ireland police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan after complaining bitterly.

Patrick Miller said tonight: "These are the same children
they are going to be asking to join the police and this is
how they treat them."

The 11-year-old and two teenage friends were apprehended on
suspicion of causing criminal damage after allegedly
writing on Londonderry's city walls on July 24.

"You don't want to see your child subject to this kind of
ordeal, brought home to her mother in a police vehicle with
armed men, it is outrageous," Mr Miller added.

"We are making a complaint to the Ombudsman and have
demanded a meeting with the chief constable."

Police say they asked permission before taking a photograph
and DNA sample.

A spokesman said: "We received a report on Monday, July 24,
that graffiti was being painted on the city walls. Police
went to the scene and spoke to three girls, who gave ages
indicating they were in their mid-teens.

"The girls were taken home to their parents and
arrangements were made to interview them at a later date."

DNA profiling has been controversial, facing opposition
from civil liberties groups, but valued by police as a
crime-solving tool.

The Patten report into the reform of Northern Ireland
policing in September 1999 said advances in finger-printing
and DNA collection should be used by police here.

Thousands of samples are on a database held by police.

The police spokesman added: "We have an obligation to
investigate incidents of criminal damage regardless of the
ages of those involved.

"The girl was a voluntary attender at Strand Road. As is
routine, a photograph and DNA sample were taken - with the
consent of her parents."

Sinn Fein Derry City Councillor Billy Page said the girl's
treatment had been a disgrace.

"This is the type of treatment one would expect for someone
charged with a serious crime such as murder or robbery, not
on a child for writing her name on a wall," he said.

By Barrá Best


Irish In America Are 'Under Siege'

Senator Ted Kennedy waits while Senators Martinez, Warner
and McCain answer questions from media during a stop in

By Caitriona Palmer

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Irish immigration activists warned U.S.
lawmakers last week that the future of the Irish community
in America is at risk if comprehensive immigration reform
is not passed.

"The facts are clear to us," said Niall O'Dowd, chairman of
the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. "Without
immigration reform, the Irish-born

community in the United States will no longer exist and one
of the greatest contributors to the success of this nation
will be no more."

Speaking as a witness before the U.S. Senate's Judiciary
Committee hearing on immigration, O'Dowd said that the
Irish undocumented community in the U.S. was "under siege"
and that America would be the "big loser" should Irish
immigrants have to return home.

"Our neighborhoods are disappearing, our community
organizations are in steep decline. Our sporting and
cultural organizations are deeply affected by the lack of
legal emigration," he said.

"The sad reality is that there is simply no way for the
overwhelming majority of Irish people to come to the United
States legally at present."

Testifying before a sparsely attended committee that
included Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, an avid supporter
of the ILIR, O'Dowd told the hearing that current
immigration law would have prevented Kennedy's ancestors
from entering the country.

"If the Irish antecedents of Andrew Jackson, John F.
Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were trying to enter the United
States today they would have to do so illegally," he said.

Praising the ILIR for their efforts, Kennedy said that
prior immigration reform in the U.S. had unintentionally
penalized the Irish.

"The way that the legislation was developed worked in a
very dramatic and significant way against the Irish,"
Kennedy said.

The hearing was the first opportunity for the ILIR, a New
York-based grassroots organization that has dramatically
raised the profile of the undocumented Irish community in
the U.S., to provide a formal presentation to senior U.S.
lawmakers about the effects that living in the shadows has
had on the community.

"Their driver's licenses will not be renewed which means
mothers cannot drive their children to school. The day-to-
day struggle of living illegally in America has taken a
heavy personal toll on them. I submit that they deserve
better," O'Dowd said.

Under the glare of bright lights and against the whirr of
digital cameras, O'Dowd sat at a long rectangular table in
front of the imposing horseshoe-shaped committee table. A
large clock with bright red numbers kept track of the five-
minute speaking time allotted to each witness.

Scattered behind O'Dowd in the packed committee room on
Capitol Hill were dozens of supporters, many of whom were
undocumented, wearing the now-familiar green and white
"Legalize the Irish" t-shirts.

They listened as other witnesses including Commerce
Secretary Carlos Guitierrez, a native of Cuba and a
naturalized citizen, testified that immigration was to the
key to America's future economic health.

"I have lost many things in my life - my wallet, my keys,"
Guitierrez told the committee. "But I have never lost my
passport. It is my most prized possession."

Sitting in the back row of the room listening intently to
the testimony was Bruce Decell, whose 28-year-old son-in-
law, Mark Petrocelli, died in the north tower of the World
Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Wearing a photograph of his
son-in-law on the lapel of his suit and holding a large
framed photo of the twin towers, Decell had come to
Washington D.C. to protest comprehensive immigration

"If they're going to amnesty in millions more illegal
aliens, Americans are going to die. And I'm against it," he
said, offering a view held by many opponents of the Senate-
backed bill.

One expert told the committee that illegal immigration
jeopardized U.S. national security and that terrorists
could exploit what he called a lax legal framework.

"When the United States provides an alien with resident
alien status or when we naturalize an alien, we are
providing him with the 'keys to the kingdom,'" said Michael
W. Cutler, a fellow with the Center for Immigration

But Steve McSweeney, a 32-year-old undocumented contractor
from Ireland, said that he and other undocumented Irish had
labored for years in America and that they were only asking
for legal status.

"I believe I've given my fair share to America," said
McSweeney, who has lived illegally in the U.S. for nine

"I was one of the first respondents to Ground Zero. I spent
nearly two weeks in hospital afterwards where I had a
serious arm operation because I cut my arm back there," he

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was the latest in a
series of hearings called by the House of Representatives
and Senate amid fierce debate over how to address illegal

At stake is an immigration bill agreed by the U.S. Senate
and backed by President George W. Bush that would provide a
path to citizenship for the more than 11 million illegal
immigrants currently living in the U.S. Senate lawmakers
are under intense pressure to reach a compromise between
this bill and a competing House bill that stresses strict
border security.

This story appeared in the issue of July 26 - August 1,


Third Suspect Charged With Murder

A third man has been charged with murdering a Scottish man
in County Londonderry at the weekend.

Ronald Mackie, 36, was attacked by a gang outside a
football club before being pushed onto the road, where he
was then struck by a car on Saturday.

The man is due to appear before magistrates in Derry on

Two men charged with murder have been remanded in custody.
A man questioned over causing death by dangerous driving
has been released on police bail.

Detectives investigating Mr Mackie's death have previously
released two men without charge and another on police bail.

The victim, from near Stirling in Scotland, was watching a
band parade on Friday night before going to the club.

On Monday, police said there had been a row in Tobermore
Football Club before Mr Mackie was assaulted on the Maghera
Road, about half a mile from the Glenshane Pass between
0145 and 0215 BST.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 21:40:48 GMT


Row Over 'Leisure Centre Rally'

The use of a Belfast City Council leisure centre for a
meeting about an internal UDA dispute has been defended by
Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers.

About 200 people attended the meeting at Ballysillan
Leisure Centre in the north of the city on Tuesday.

Mr Rodgers said he believed the meeting in the leisure
centre was "a genuine attempt to solve problems in the

However, Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan claimed
the meeting "amounted to a UDA rally".

The Ulster Political Research Group represented the views
of the paramilitary organisation's leadership.

They faced angry questions from the audience made up
largely of women.

'Genuine attempt'

The meeting was held in response to a standoff between
rival Ulster Defence Association factions in the area and
talk of a possible loyalist feud breaking out.

Mr Rodgers said: "The last thing we want to see is mayhem
on our streets, people losing their lives or being
seriously injured.

"If it's going to bring about what we all hope is a
peaceful situation, I have absolutely no problem or
difficulty with it, but in saying that, I am totally
opposed to any paramilitary organisation, be they
republican or loyalist."

However, Margaret McClenaghan said leisure centres were
"rate-payers' buildings" and should not be used for
political meetings

She has demanded "urgent talks" with Belfast City Council's
chief executive.

"No matter how you try to dress it up, it was in support of
a unionist paramilitary group, namely north Belfast UDA,"
she said.


"There were a lot of people there from different factions
and some explanations need to be given."

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Belfast City Council said
an application for hire of facilities at the leisure centre
was received on 31 July.

"This application was from a local community residents'
group seeking to book a room at the leisure centre for a
community consultation meeting at 7pm on the following
evening," the spokesperson said.

"The application was granted on this basis as per normal
council procedures."

Pastor Jack McKee, who has been involved in the
negotiations, said it had been a useful meeting.

On Monday, members of the UDA's so-called ruling inner
council held talks with representatives of the break-away
faction in north Belfast.

Tensions within the UDA are high following a weekend stand-
off between rival factions and a public show of strength by
its leadership.

Senior figures held talks with members of the organisation
in north Belfast, loyal to Ihab and Andre Shoukri.

They were expelled from the organisation last month.

On Friday night in north Belfast, police seized a shotgun,
ammunition and petrol bombs following a stand-off between
up to 80 members of rival UDA factions.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 12:34:51 GMT


Opin: GAA Must Stand Firm On Rally Plans


It is interesting that those very same people who are
bleating loudest about a planned hunger strike
commemoration rally to be held at Casement Park on August
13 had nothing to say about the British army’s still
vividly-recalled theft and occupation of the ground in the
1970s. Nor did they have anything to say about the theft
and occupation by the British of countless other GAA
properties, as well as homes, schools and anything else
that took their fancy.

It’s reported that the GAA’s Central Council agreed at a
meeting in Dublin at the weekend that the rally would break
the GAA’s rules about not getting involved in political
events. But unless we’re missing something, the Central
Council has made no proactive move to become involved in
the matter.

For its part, the Antrim County Board appears to have no
qualms about letting the widely-publicised event go ahead.

Unionists will forgive lovers of our national games in
Antrim and in other parts of the North if they take with a
pinch of salt anything that they have to say to clubs which
remained beleaguered and targeted for decades by the
British and their proxy gangs down through the darkest
years of the Troubles while politicians looked the other
way and pretended nothing was wrong.

It is vital that the Antrim Board remains rock-solid on
this issue and that the rally is allowed to go ahead. It
would be a massive step backwards if outsiders and elements
hostile to the Association were allowed to give a lecture
in morality and principle to men and women who stood fast
in support of the core principles of the GAA in the North
at a time when to do so was quite literally to place your
life in danger.

This dignified and peaceful tribute must be allowed to go
ahead and the GAA must stand firm in the face of those
political and media elements which are desperate to force
the Association to become involved. Headquarters should
avoid putting its size 11s firmly in it once again, the way
it has so many times when the issue on the agenda is the

The war is over. Far from being a purely party political
event, this rally is another indication that the
nationalist and republican community will not be deflected
from the path of peace that it has chosen. Admiration and
respect for the hunger strikers and their achievements
crosses party lines and all will be welcome to come along
to Casement Park on August 13. No guns will be in evidence
come the day – except of course those carried by British
state forces who will doubtless be closely monitoring the
goings-on – no uniforms, no balaclavas, no paramilitary
trappings. Instead, colleagues and families will gather in
an atmosphere of solemn remembrance, celebration and pride
to pay tribute to an act of selfless courage which even
after just 25 years is recognised as one of the most
pivotal events in Irish history.


Opin: Put An End To This Aggression

Bairbre de Brún

Twenty-five years ago today, Kieran Doherty died on hunger
strike in the H-blocks of Long Kesh.

Kieran was elected TD for Cavan and Monaghan during the
hunger strike and one would expect the Irish government to
mark the anniversary of his passing today.

In June this year, 25 years after Kieran’s election,
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD welcomed the 1981 hunger strikers’
familes to Leinster House, along with the families of Frank
Stagg, Tony Darcy and Seán McNeela.

The emotion of the presentation ceremony showed the deep
devotion that Irish people have for those who died on
hunger strike and for their families.

Events throughout the country have given people a chance to
mark their respect for the hunger strikers, including an
event at the Hilton Hotel in Belfast last night and white-
line pickets in Belfast this afternoon.

That devotion was evident in Dungiven, Co Derry, on
Saturday last as a large crowd gathered to commemorate the
death of Kevin Lynch, who died on hunger strike 25 years
ago yesterday.

The march and commemoration, with Martin McGuinness as the
main speaker, was part of a week of events that included
the launch of a new book about Kevin’s life and the opening
of a Gaelic pitch in his name.

The new hurling and camogie pitch is the first of its kind
in Co Derry, which has been more of a footballing county in
the past.

Speakers from the platform recalled that Kevin Lynch had
been a particularly talented player who brought a junior
trophy away from Croke Park. His brother recalled how Kevin
had been “hurling mad” and how Kevin had relived the memory
of lifting the trophy shortly before he died.

A national commemoration for all the hunger strikers will
take place in Belfast on August 13.

Maybe it is because of what we have been through but,
wherever I have gone in the past fortnight, one topic on
everyone’s lips is the slaughter of innocents in Lebanon
and Gaza.

On Saturday, people gathered in Belfast city centre to
protest at this slaughter, and Trócaire will hold a
demonstration on August 8 at 1pm outside Belfast City Hall.

The refusal of the United States and Britain to call for an
immediate ceasefire and their talk of needing a wider
package has prolonged the suffering of the Lebanese,
Palestinian and Israeli people.

They gave the Israelis the green light to continue their
attacks, which have now included the carnage in Qana with
at least 54 civilians killed, including at least 34
children, the apparent targeting and murder of United
Nations observers and various other atrocities.

As the relentless pounding of Lebanon continues, it is easy
to forget that a vicious and sustained Israeli military
campaign continues in the Gaza Strip. Whatever the actions
of non-governmental actors, nothing justifies the scale of
destruction by the Israelis, with hundreds killed as a
direct result of government action, and infrastructure in
Lebanon and Gaza devastated. Action must be taken to put an
end to the destruction and the killing but also to put an
end to the mindset that tolerates such aggression as a way
of life.


Opin: The Decline Of The B&B


The changing nature of Irish tourism is nowhere more
obvious than in relation to traditional bed-and-breakfast
accommodation. The number of B&Bs is down. And a survey
found that up to 60 per cent of operators expect their
businesses to close when they retire because of a lack of
interest from family members. In spite of that, the
businesses are profitable and their owners expect an
increase in the number of visitors this year.

There is no doubt that running a successful bed-and -
breakfast establishment is hard work. And competition from
new budget hotels, built with the assistance of tax breaks,
has eaten into their client base, while the emergence of
the short-stay holiday phenomenon has mainly benefited city
areas. Because of these factors, the Town and Country Homes
Association, the largest representative body for B&Bs, has
urged the Government to fund a strategy for product
development, training and marketing in the next National
Development Plan.

The association should be pushing an open door. At a time
when the nature of farming has been transformed by Cap
reforms and decoupling payments, there is an urgent need
for long-term planning in the development of rural
economies. This can best be achieved through local co-
operation. The development of tourism, involving package-
based B&B services, should form a key element of this
strategy. The Town and Country Homes Association wants to
develop rural-based, package-style holidays through which
B&B owners would offer activities such as walking, angling,
golfing and cycling in addition to the provision of

This type of holiday is successful in parts of France,
Italy and Spain, particularly in relation to walking and
cycling. And it would add an important new and personal
dimension to Irish tourism. Already, there are indications
that some local communities have embraced the concept. New
walking routes have been agreed with local farmers in the
Newport/Mulranny area of Mayo and these trails may shortly
be extended into Achill. Voluntary co-operation across
interest groups is vital in the development of such
amenities and it offers benefits to all.

Domestic tourism has grown rapidly during the past five
years, partly fuelled by the ownership of holiday homes and
the development of low-cost hotels. The construction of
these units has generated extensive off-farm employment,
but this cannot continue indefinitely. A greater number of
overseas visitors must be encouraged to explore rural
Ireland. And a more co-ordinated approach to the
development of the B&B sector would be of considerable

© The Irish Times


Opin: Saga Of The Diaries Has Clouded Legacy Of Casement

Author Roger Sawyer looks back at the life of Roger
Casement, whose campaign to secure Irish freedom ended a
brilliant career and led to his eventual execution

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Roger
Casement, the Irish patriot and British traitor who was
hanged on August 3rd 1916. As Ellis, the hangman, put it:
"He appeared to me to be the bravest man it fell to my
unhappy lot to execute."

Although guilty according to ancient law, should his life
have been spared? It has long been clear that efforts for a
reprieve, made on strong grounds by influential people,
were defeated by manipulation of what became known as the
"Black Diaries".

The road to the scaffold had been a peculiar one. The son
of a Protestant landed Irish gentleman and a well-bred
Roman Catholic mother, Casement had an exceptionally
fruitful career in the British consular service in Africa
and South America. On both continents he galvanised the
service into becoming an effective instrument for the
emancipation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved rubber-

When consul-general in Brazil, his achievements had been
recognised by the award of a knighthood; he was eulogised
from the pulpit of Westminster Abbey and in the pages of
the Times. As tensions began to build between the British
and German empires, he seemed to personify everything that
was great and good in British imperialism.

All was well until he decided to emancipate the Irish. The
separatists were thrilled to have attracted such a prize
and, in 1914 they employed him in the United States
drumming up support for their cause. He was chief speaker
at a meeting in Philadelphia nine days before war was
declared; America's response to that declaration soon led
him to concoct a scheme which was to lead to his death.

He contacted the German ambassador to Washington and it was
agreed that he should visit Germany to try to recruit an
"Irish Brigade" from among prisoners-of-war. Armed by
Germany, it would participate in an Irish uprising.

Casement had acquired, for a mixture of motives, a
Norwegian man-servant, Adler Christensen, and the two set
off for Germany via neutral Norway. Once in Christiania
(Oslo), Christensen lost no time in betraying Casement to
the British minister there, stating that unnatural vice was
the bond between master and servant. However, despite the
offer of a reward of £5,000, Casement was not captured and
he went on to Germany, where he recruited 52 prisoners-of-

Such a poor response disillusioned the Germans and
Casement. It was agreed that he should go to Ireland
without the brigade.

All of Casement's disloyal activities had been monitored by
naval intelligence in room 40 of the Admiralty Old
Building, thanks to those who had deciphered the German
codes. They knew that a token shipment of arms was going to
the Irish Volunteers; they knew that a traitor would land
on the coast of Kerry from a U-boat.

Once ashore, Casement was immediately arrested and soon
transported to London. One of his two companions was also
captured; the other escaped to America. The Volunteers had
failed to meet them and no attempt at rescue was made,
despite ample opportunity. From something of a national
hero, he had become the most despised man in England.
Despite this, however, subsequent realisation of the
propaganda error of executing rebel leaders in the wake of
the Easter Rising might well have saved his life. That it
did not can be attributed to the use made of his diaries.

Those who disliked him most intensely, among them Capt
Reginald Hall, head of naval intelligence, and Sir Basil
Thomson, chief of the Special Branch, had known of his
proclivities since his time in Norway - that is, for 18

Their concern was to prevent the granting of a reprieve
and, more importantly, to use the diaries to influence
American politicians and diplomats. Secret circulation of
copies of the diaries helped to achieve both ends. For
many, homosexual acts were even less acceptable than
treasonable ones.

Once the deed had been done, a cover-up operation began,
but not for the reasons that many have put forward. When
the first attempt was made to publish the diaries, Sidney
Parry (husband of Casement's cousin Gertrude) sought and
was granted an interview with the then prime minister,
Stanley Baldwin.

At that meeting it was agreed on purely compassionate
grounds that Baldwin would "assume personal control of the
diaries": from that day onward it would not be possible to
inspect them, let alone publish them, "without permission
in writing from the prime minister of the day".

Although Parry would have preferred the documents to have
been destroyed, for Baldwin to have sanctioned such a
course, had it been within his power to do so, would have
amounted to surrendering to those who believed the diaries
to have been forged.

Given that Baldwin accepted that they were genuine, the
diaries obviously had to be preserved as the only wholly
acceptable evidence for refuting the charge of forgery -
even though today, despite their accessibility since 1959
and the unanimous verdicts of no fewer than four forensic
examinations, there are still those who argue that they are
forgeries. One might add that there always will be.

Why does it matter? Who cares whether or not the man was
heterosexual? It definitely should matter to historians:
they must be sure, without a doubt, that their primary
sources are genuine.

But the saga of the diaries diverts attention from the
man's achievements. In 2003, something did occur which went
some way towards focusing attention on his true worth. At a
ceremony in London, Lord Wilberforce unveiled a portrait of
Roger Casement at the headquarters of the Anti-Slavery
Society (not Anti-Slavery International).

The dedication reads: "In memory of Roger Casement (1864-
1916), in recognition of his profound compassion and
determination to remedy the gross violations of human
rights experienced by peoples of the Congo and the
Putumayo. The Anti-Slavery Society remembers with

Roger Sawyer's books include Casement with Hindsight
(1984), Slavery in the Twentieth Century (1986) and Roger
Casement's Diaries 1910: The Black and the White (1997)

© The Irish Times


Casement: Traitor Or Patriot?

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

An Irish patriot or a British traitor?

A colonial diplomat who campaigned against slave labour in
Africa and South America.

The inspiration for Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and
a man admired by writers such as George Bernard Shaw and
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A Knight of the Realm and a man whose morality came under
attack through the publication of his so called Black

There are few historical figures who continue to attract
such abiding interest as Sir Roger Casement, executed for
treason in Pentonville Prison 90 years ago.

He was born in Dublin to a Protestant father and a Catholic
mother, but both his parents died when he was child.

He then moved to Ballycastle in County Antrim where he was
brought up by his uncle's family.

The young Roger went to school in Ballymena.

Although he spent most of his working life abroad, he often
returned to North Antrim, developing a particular fondness
for Murlough Bay.

As a Foreign Office diplomat, Roger Casement highlighted
the cruel treatment of indigenous people in forced labour
camps in the Congo and Amazon basins.


But he also became increasingly convinced of the need to
end what he viewed as Britain's oppression of his native

During World War I, he tried to strike a deal with Germany
to arm the Irish rebels and to recruit fighters from
amongst Irish prisoners of war.

The guns were intercepted and the recruiting drive came to

But Sir Roger was captured after returning to Ireland on
board a German U-Boat.

He was found guilty of treachery and was hanged on 3 August

Now to mark the 90th anniversary of his death, Sinn Fein
politicians in North Antrim are arguing that Sir Roger's
legacy should be given greater recognition in tourist
information for the area.

They would also like to see a permanent exhibition about
his life in the Ballycastle museum.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane told the BBC that Sir
Roger Casement's story was remarkable.

"Some may call him a traitor, but at the end of the day he
was very passionate about Irish republicanism, about Irish
people, their national identity, their culture and their
language," she said.

"It's from that that we want to celebrate his entire life."

But Sinn Fein motions brought before both Moyle and
Ballymena councils failed to win acceptance, with unionists
labelling the proposal divisive.

Sir Roger's old Church of Ireland school has now become
Ballymena Academy.

Another Academy old boy, DUP Councillor Robin Stirling,
exemplifies the prevailing unionist attitude.


He said: "The school I attended in 1948 would not have
recognised Roger Casement other than as a traitor.

"We have to recollect his conduct, when Britain was on its
knees, it was a backdoor attack from someone who had taken
oaths of allegiance to the British government."

In a reference to the Black Diaries which revealed Sir
Roger's apparent homosexuality, Councillor Stirling said he
did not approve either of Sir Roger's morality or his

At Magherintemple, the Casement family home where Sir Roger
spent many happy years, his descendant Patrick Casement is
more forgiving.

"My grandfather and all his brothers were fighting in the
forces for Britain in the First World War at the time.

"For them it was an appalling disgrace on the family, very,
very difficult for them to live with, and I think that
carried on for another generation.

"But my own generation, I think, are coming more to terms
with it looking at it in a much more objective way and
seeing Sir Roger as the remarkable and interesting
character that he was."

Patrick believes history should judge Sir Roger as a great
humanitarian and someone who gave his life for what he

For 50 years after his death Sir Roger's remains lay in a
lime pit at Pentonville prison.

In the 1960s he was repatriated to Dublin, where he was
buried with full military honours in Glasnevin Cemetery
with the ailing Eamon De Valera in attendance.

It was Sir Roger Casement's dying wish that he be laid to
rest in Murlough Bay.

Given the pomp and circumstance of his state funeral it is
hard to see the Irish authorities agreeing to another re-
interment, but Sinn Fein's Cara McShane argues this would
be the best way to mark the centenary of his execution in
ten years time.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/08/02 16:13:27 GMT


Ahern Confident Of Winning Next Year’s Election

02/08/2006 - 16:02:40

Bertie Ahern has said he is confident going into next
summer's general election - despite lagging support at the
opinion polls.

Support for the Fianna Fáil party remained static at 35% in
a recent Red C political poll.

The Taoiseach also shrugged off suggestions earlier this
week that he is planning to "buy" the next elections by
embarking on a public spending spree.

He says he is not hugely concerned about the upcoming
election but will do everything in his power to increase
his party's chances of success.

The Taoiseach said: “There's always pressure but I don't
think too much about it. (All)… elections are important -
you just have to get on with the job an do your level


Waterford Coast Bonfires To Mark 200 Years Of Signal Towers

Ciarán Murphy

A series of bonfires will light up the Waterford coast
tomorrow evening to warn of a possible attack from the
French in a ceremony to mark the 200th anniversary of an
invasion that never happened.

The fires will be lit at signal tower sites in the coastal
areas of Bonmahon, Ardmore, Ballymona, Ballyvoile Head and
the Island of Kane.

The ceremonial fires are to commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the construction of 80 signal towers, built
around the Irish coastline between 1804 and 1806, as a
warning mechanism against a possible French invasion during
the Napoleonic Wars.

The British, fearing an invasion similar to that of 1796,
decided to build signal stations and flagstaffs in west
Cork as the French had entered Ireland through Bantry Bay
during this invasion.

Towers lined the shore from Malin, down the western
shoreline to Kerry, along the south coast and north to
Dublin, Antrim and the Derry shorelines.

A system of semaphore signalling was established so that
each tower could be visible from another. The semaphores,
fitted to the top of the towers, mimicked a person's
outstretched arms, flag held in each hand.

A signal at Blackball Head in Co Cork, for example, could
have been seen in Sheep's Head to the south and be passed
on to Dublin relatively quickly. However, it is understood
that Ireland's harsh climate often rendered the system

Other fortifications, known as signal stations, did not
have towers and sent their signal by flag waving.

The towers were abandoned following Napoleon's defeat at
Waterloo but were used as look- out posts again during the
first and second World Wars. Many are no longer in

Bonfires will be set alight in Bonmahon, Ardmore and
Brownstown Head tomorrow evening at 7pm, while on August
20th at 3pm, fires will be lit at all signal tower sites
around the country.

Organiser of the ceremonial fires at Tranamoe in Bonmahon,
Co Waterford, Margaret Cosgrave, said the towers are an
important part of our cultural heritage. "The anniversary,
particularly the event on August 20th, helps to tie all the
coastal community together," she added.

For more information see

© The Irish Times

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