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September 29, 2006

Bishoop in Plea Over Assembly

FINAL RESPECTS: A lone piper leads the funeral cortege as the remains of assembly member Michael Ferguson are taken to St Teresa’s chapel on the Glen Road, yesterday PICTURE: Hugh Russell

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 09/29/06 Bishop In Plea Over Assembly
IN 09/29/06 Vandalism At Catholic Schools In City Doubles
BT 09/29/06 Assembly To Debate Return Of Devolution
IN 09/29/06 Sean O’Cealleagh Deported From US
BB 09/29/06 30-Year-Old Man Shot In The Knees
EX 09/29/06 Ex-Loyalist Cleared Of Bouncer Murder
IT 09/29/06 Loyalist's Trial Told Of `Paramilitary' Photos
BT 09/29/06 A Peaceful Spot Designed To Get Politicos Talking
BT 09/29/06 Opin: A Whiff Of Sleaze Hangs Over Dublin
IN 09/29/06 Opin: Religion Without Conflict A Dilemma For Paisley
IN 09/29/06 Opin: Irony Of DUP's Democratic View
IN 09/29/06 More Than 1,000 Mourners At Michael Ferguson's Funeral
IN 09/29/06 Film-Maker Lambasts Excesses Of Irish Life
IN 09/29/06 Museum Hosts `Farewell' Event
NT 09/29/06 A Pirate's Life For She


Bishop In Plea Over Assembly

By Alf McCreary
29 September 2006

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher Dr Michael
Jackson has called for leadership in meeting the
November 24 deadline for agreement on the continuation
of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Speaking at the Diocesan Synod in Clogher today, the
Bishop said: "These years of peace are precious. Things
have changed.

"People have a new sense of confidence, and a new need
of community.

"People want a normal life, and peace and co-operation.
They have had enough of party posturing."

He said it mattered to everyone in Ireland that an
essential strand of government and democratic
expectation should live "and not moulder in inertia,
eight years into an era of unprecedented peace."

He added: "To define political life and activity in
terms of points-scoring and party agenda will lead us
deeper into a quagmire. In church and in society,
service and leadership together require decision-
making, the taking of responsibility and listening to

Bishop Jackson also called for a vocabulary of respect,
and the need to address ways of building up the
community after years of conflict.

He also called on Protestants to contribute to the
wider community throughout Ireland. He said that Church
of Ireland members face the challenge of narrowing the
gap "between who we are and who other people are, and
the creative and destructive effects of our own


Vandalism At Catholic Schools In City Doubles

By Simon Doyle Education Correspondent

VANDALISM on Catholic schools in Belfast have more than
doubled in 12 months, new figures reveal.

Almost 200 Catholic maintained schools in the city were
targeted by vandals in the last school year.

There was also a sharp increase in attacks on schools
in the `controlled' sector, which funds non-Catholic

Vandalism and arson were among the most common reasons
schools provided for taking exceptional closure days
last year.

A total of 1,639 schools were vandalised in the 2005/06
academic year, according to Maria Eagle, NIO minister
with responsibility for education.

While the figures were broken down into Catholic
maintained and controlled, incidents of vandalism are
not recorded as sectarian by education and library

Damage was caused to 196 Catholic schools in Belfast
last year, compared to 100 in the previous 12 months.

Not included in the figures was a non-sectarian arson
attack on Holy Cross nursery in the north of the city
which forced the school to shut for five days.

There were a further 137 incidents recorded at
controlled schools, up from 98 in 2004/05.

This included a wrecking spree by youths at Strandtown
PS in east Belfast in April during which 17 classrooms
and an office were destroyed.

In the South Eastern Education and Library Board area,
which also covers parts of Belfast, there were more
than 500 schools attacked last year, 459 of which were

A further 133 controlled and 57 Catholic schools in the
north eastern board were damaged, according to the
figures published in response to a parliamentary
question by Democratic Unionist MP for Strangford Iris

Schools in the western board, which covers parts of
counties Fermanagh, Derry and Tyrone, sustained the
fewest attacks - 14 on controlled and 22 on Catholic

More than 550 schools in the southern board, which
includes counties Armagh, Down and Tyrone, were
targeted last year, a slight rise from the previous

A Council for Catholic Maintained Schools spokesman
said the figures were a worrying development which the
council was taking seriously.

"It is vital that the teaching staff and pupils attending
any Catholic maintained school must have the right to be
educated in an environment free from attack," he said.

"Schools are at the very heart of the community and
when a school is attacked then the community suffers as
a whole.

"It is therefore important that those with influence in
the community and the government must act to prevent
further attacks."


Assembly To Debate Return Of Devolution

By Noel McAdam
29 September 2006

The Assembly will next week debate how it might operate
in future, including potential changes for the
Executive and Ministers, if devolution returns.

A report on the institutions of the Good Friday
Agreement, including the North-South bodies, will be
made public at a plenary session on Tuesday.

It follows a summer of deliberations on the issues by
the all-party Preparation for Government committee,
which has discussed the 'institutional' issues on
Mondays for some time.

Sinn Fein, however, may again not participate in the
Assembly session because it argues the committee was
about preparation for government and not preparation
for plenaries.

It is likely, however, to be the last Assembly debate
before the talks in St Andrews in Scotland at which
Secretary of State Peter Hain said yesterday some "real
progress" could be made.

But Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey warned against
an "elaborate PR stunt" in St Andrews if it was clear
the DUP was not up for a deal in any circumstances. His
warning came after DUP chairman Lord Morrow told the
Assembly: "Anyone who is holding their breath for
November 24 can forget about it. I state clearly: those
people can forget about 24 November because nothing
will happen."

Sir Reg said: "If the DUP have made their mind up ...
the public should be told the reasons why and the
governments should not waste an estimated œ500,000
taxpayers money on an elaborate PR stunt in St

Following a series of meetings with Mr Hain, SDLP
deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said it was clear the
parties are "nearing the last chance saloon".

"That's why going into the talks in Scotland we need to
make sure that we have the makings of a deal, and
coming out we have the deal put together," the South
Belfast MP said.

Foreshadowing next week's anticipated Independent
Monitoring Commission report, Alliance leader David
Ford said: "DUP members might well wish to have longer
to assess republican bona fides. The blunt reality is
that they don't and the next seven weeks are all the
time they have."

Mr Hain said: "It is clear that the British Government
now expect that some real progress can be made in the
talks in Scotland for example on the policing issue and
structural matters."


Sean O’Cealleagh Deported From US

By Catherine Morrison

A man jailed for life over the 1988 killing of two
plain-clothed British army corporals in west Belfast
has been deported from the US.

Sean O Cealleagh, is understood to have arrived in
Ireland on Sunday. He flew to Dublin accompanied by US
immigration officers.

It is not known if he will stay in the Republic, or
return to Northern Ireland where members of his family
still live.

The 37 year-old had been in US custody since September
1 after the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled he could
be deported, throwing out a lower court decision
allowing him to stay in America.

O Cealleagh, freed under the Good Friday Agreement
after serving eight years for aiding and abetting the
murders, is married with a son and had been living in

He was one of three men controversially given life
sentences in 1990 for lesser roles in the deaths of the
two soldiers.

Derek Wood (24) and David Howes (23) were taken from
their unmarked car after driving into the funeral
cortege of IRA member Caoimhin MacBradaigh, who himself
had been killed at Milltown Cemetery by Michael Stone.

In chaotic scenes captured on camera, they were beaten,
taken away and shot dead. In an iconic image of the
Troubles, Fr Alec Reid is seen kneeling beside their
bodies administering the Last Rites.

Mr O Cealleagh emigrated to the US in 1999, getting a
jobs as a bar manager and marrying an American woman.
He was granted permanent US residency two years later.

He has repeatedly denied involvement in the killings
and told a deportation hearing that he was only "on the
periphery'' of the mob which attacked the corporals and
had never been a member of the IRA.

Mr O Cealleagh was arrested in February 2004 at Los
Angeles International Airport as he was returning from
a visit to Northern Ireland, where he attended the
christening of a nephew.


30-Year-Old Man Shot In The Knees

A 30-year-old man is being treated in hospital after
being injured in a paramilitary-style attack in County

The victim was found shot in both knees at the Cresent
Playing Fields off the Bushmills Road in Coleraine
shortly after 2200 BST on Thursday.

It is understood that three men were involved in the

The injured man's wounds are not believed to be life-
threatening. Police have appealed for witnesses.

SDLP assembly member blamed loyalist paramilitaries for
the attack and called on police to do more to tackle

"Clearly the PSNI need to upgrade the collection of
intelligence on these thugs who have no intention of
being assimilated into any political process and are
obviously outside the realm of any kind of reform.

"The last thing any community needs is gun-wielding
thugs administrating justice with guns and adding to
the pressures that our hospitals are experiencing," Mr
Dallat said.

Yvonne Boyle of the Alliance Party said the attack
served no purpose.

"Once again someone has been brutally attacked for no
gain," she said.

We have to get our attitude to violence and the rule of
law right, and recognize that such attacks do nothing
but harm to the communities we live in."

Sinn Fein's Billy Leonard also blamed loyalists for the

"When will local loyalist and unionist representatives
actually work to rid the area of loyalist
paramilitarism?" he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/29 10:45:50 GMT


Ex-Loyalist Cleared Of Bouncer Murder

A top loyalist turned Special Branch agent was cleared
today of trying to kill a nightclub bouncer.

However, ex-Ulster Volunteer Force commander Mark
Haddock, 37, was found guilty of grievous bodily harm
with intent for his part in a brutal hatchet and hammer
assault on Trevor Gowdy outside a social club in
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, in December 2002.

Haddock, who is at the centre of a major Police
Ombudsman inquiry into collusion between loyalist
murderers and rogue Special Branch officers, was also
convicted of false imprisonment and an arson attack on
the victim's car.


Loyalist's Trial Told Of `Paramilitary' Photos

By Staff Reporter

Police found "paramilitary-type" photographs at the
home of a top loyalist, Belfast Crown Court heard

William `Mo' Courtney's home in Fernhill Heights, north
Belfast, was searched after Alan McCullough (21), a
former ally of UDA leader Johnny Adair, was reported

McCullough, a former member of Adair's notorious `C
company', disappeared on May 28 2003. His mother
Barbara said the last time she saw him alive was when
he got into a car driven by Courtney (43). Courtney
denies this.

McCullough's body was found in a shallow grave in
Mallusk on the outskirts of north Belfast on the
morning of June 5 2003.

Courtney denies his murder and membership of the UDA
and UFF between February and July 2003.

The court was told that after a police briefing on May
29 2003 on McCullough's disappearance a warrant was
issued under the Terrorism Act to search Court-ney's

Geoffery Millar QC, prosecuting, asked a police officer
involved in the search whether "paramilitary-type"
photographs had been seized from beside a computer desk
on the second floor of Courtney's home.

The officer said this was the case and that the
pictures were of "paramilitary parades etc".

On the day McCullough's body was discovered a second
search of Courtney's house was authorised and carried

A succession of police officers called to the witness
box confirmed that items including two pairs of soiled
jeans, several pairs of boots and trainers and a build-
er's shovel had been seized from the house.

Some of the items were discovered in a garden shed.
Arthur Harvey QC, defending, said the shed did not have
a lock.

The trial before Mr Justice McLaughlin is to resume


A Peaceful Spot Designed To Get Politicos Talking

Talks to save the Assembly move to Scotland next month.
Reporting from St Andrews, Chris Thornton peers inside
the five-star hotel where Tony Blair will make his last
stab at a deal

29 September 2006

When Sean Connery is stomping down the road and the
heir to the throne has passed you in the street, the
prospect of seeing Ian Paisley or Gerry Adams isn't,
frankly, something to excite the soul.

The people of St Andrews, the Scottish town hosting
Northern Ireland's latest round of political talks in
two weeks, have hardly noticed their place as a future
footnote to Irish history. Golf's glitterati are
routinely in town and Prince William spent his
university years on their cobbled streets.

The Dunhill Masters is in golf's home next week,
bringing with it playing celebrities like Samuel L
Jackson and Michael Douglas; so a few days of talks
about the return of devolution to a distant place
called Stormont is something of an anticlimax.

"A fella I worked with walked out the door last year
and literally bumped into Tom Hanks," said one
resident. "It's that kind of place. It's not arrogance,
but we see a lot of famous people so we give them their

The unfazed population may be one of the reasons why
the Government settled on St Andrews for the last big
push for the settlement, but the venue must be another.

The Fairmont St Andrews is an immense seaside hotel
situated a couple of miles outside the town. It was
built five years ago by Dr Dan Panoz, inventor of the
Nicorette patch.

Neither the hotel nor the Government will confirm that
the talks will take place here, but several other
sources say this is where the parties are bound.

The Fairmont St Andrews has the kind of comfort and
isolation that London and Dublin crave for in these
sojourns - comfort to relax the delegates into a
parlaying mood and isolation to reduce the chances of
dealmakers being unnerved by voices back home.

In this case, they have 520 acres of windswept grounds
to keep the TV cameras at bay and patchy mobile phone
coverage to prevent some leaks.

The hotel is built on a severe bluff over the sea - one
person recently likened the first glimpse of the hotel
to seeing a prison - but the interior is palatial.

Courtesy of the taxpayer, dozens of politicians will
fluff up the pillows in œ230-a-night rooms (that's for
a sea view) which feature minibars, broadband access
and US electrical outlets alongside the standard UK
plug (in case US envoy Mitchell Reiss forgets his

"We love sitting in our fluffy dressing gowns and
enjoying our view of the golf course," a guest said in
an internet review.

"A nice treat if you can afford it," said another.

Most of the talking will take place in the hotel's huge
conference centre with its wide hallways deliberately
designed to allow talking to continue during breaks.

The governments are no doubt hoping the exchanges will
spill over into the less formal parts of the hotel,
like the cathedral-sized atrium, where Assembly members
can gaze out to sea and listen to the gentle tinkling
of a fountain while they savour their last turn at Tony
Blair's largesse.

They can feed in any of five restaurants - the sort of
places that put a hamburger on focaccia instead of a
bap (and charge œ10.50 for the privilege).

And there is, of course, the bar. The array of whiskeys
may not tempt the DUP, but the staff are steeled for
the rest of the delegates. "Open until the last man
drops," said a sometime patron.

Confessed tree-hugger Gerry Adams can enjoy nature
walks along the beaches where they filmed Chariots of
Fire with the additional comfort of knowing the
constant wind will likely defeat the sort of MI5 bug he
brought (to present to Tony Blair) to the last talks
like these in Leeds Castle two years ago.

And then there's golf. The hotel has two courses - one
designed by Sam Torrance and Gene Sarazen, inventor of
the sand wedge - but there are another six around the
town and a total of 45 courses within 30 miles.

Should they go that far, the surrounding countryside
will look familiar enough to the delegates, but it's
filled with rich Scottish names like Boarhills, Dunino
and Auchtermuchtie.

If they venture into St Andrews itself, the politicians
will find the town's streets thronged with golf widows
and undergraduates.

There are 7,000 students in St Andrews - together with
the university staff, they make up about half the
population - and, apart from those studying
international relations, most won't take a blind bit of

But Ian Paisley will find familiar comfort in a gospel
hall among the cobblestones. He might not like the
omens around town, though. Next week is Green Week -
and the next King Billy has already left town.


Opin: A Whiff Of Sleaze Hangs Over Dublin

29 September 2006

Although he will be a key figure at next month's
hothouse talks in Scotland, Bertie Ahern is likely to
be pre-occupied by matters closer to home. After a week
of high political drama in Dublin, the storm over
undeclared payments made to the Taoiseach when he was
Minister for Finance in the 1990s shows no sign of

Despite the qualified backing offered to Mr Ahern by
his surprisingly docile new Tanaiste, Michael McDowell,
who referred to his actions as a "an honest error of
judgment", the list of questions is lengthening.

The most crucial is whether the ?50,000 Mr Ahern
received from 12 friends in 1993 and 1994 to help him
pay legal bills during his separation from his wife
were gifts or loans.

If they were gifts, they should have been declared and
tax should have been paid. If they were loans, as Mr
Ahern is insisting, then they should be repaid with

Now, to add to the mix, Mr Ahern has admitted receiving
fees of œ8,000 for a speaking engagement carried out as
Irish Finance Minister in Manchester. Although Mr Ahern
says he "dealt properly" with the payment, this
explanation begs a more detailed account.

Mr Ahern insists that he has broken no ethical, fiscal
or legal codes but there is no doubt that the
disclosures - the result of solid journalistic
endeavour in Dublin - have tarnished his standing and
that of his office. A whiff of sleaze hangs over
Leinster House.

The Taoiseach has always enjoyed a high popularity
rating but this time he may be running out of road. His
decision to go on television for a tearful broadcast
before presenting himself to the Dail was a cheap
attempt to win over public opinion and defuse political

Despite the contribution that Mr Ahern has made to the
peace process, and in particular to developing a
d‚tente with unionism, sympathy for him north of the
border will be eroding, too. The Taoiseach's attempts
to dodge awkward questions do him a disservice.

Although the Opposition has stopped short of calling
for Mr Ahern's resignation, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny
has warned that the Taoiseach's position could become
untenable. Prompt action on repayments is likely to be
his only option but even that will not fully restore
his reputation.

From a Northern Ireland perspective, the main concern
is that Mr Ahern is unlikely to be able to devote his
full attention to the looming political negotiations in
St Andrew's.

The combination of a damaged Taoiseach and a departing
Prime Minister is not one which is likely to command
the full respect of the political parties when they
meet next month. That must be a cause for further
concern at this crucial time.


Opin: Religion Without Conflict A Dilemma For Paisley

By Roy Garland

Sociology Professor Steve Bruce speaking at the
University of Ulster said religion was central to the
Ulster conflict hence Ian Paisley's electoral success.

He admitted the conflict was not about doctrines but
Paisley was a religious figure who took unpopular
courses and at times lost votes because God told him to
do so. This gave him strength and many looked to him
for comfort and deliverance at times of tension. Had
Paisley been in power his dogmatism might have hindered
but in opposition it gave his DUP strength and
cohesion. Core membership remains Free Presbyterian
together with a smaller number of separatist

However the DUP receive significant non-evangelical
support at the polls and Bruce puts this down to
Paisley's constancy and certainty, reflecting his
religious stance. His politics are anti-cosmopolitan
and derived from Ulster soil but his attraction
actually derives from his ability to single out
scapegoats for approbation and sooth Ulster Protestant
nerves. The scapegoats are mainly compromising
unionists. At the Twelfth, confusingly - in view of his
involvement in negotiations aimed at mutual
accommodation - Paisley insisted that "accommodation"
was "the road to final and irreversible disaster".

All who compromise are Judases, Lundys and traitors.

The word `scapegoat' is an Old Testament word. Driving
out scapegoats is intimately linked with ancient
sacrificial religions. But that kind of religion
reflects reversion to the worst features of ancient
religion that Christianity should have brought to an
end. At the Twelfth Paisley hailed the horrific
"sacrifice" at the Somme and linked it with "the
supreme sacrifice itself" claiming we must pay the same
price, "the blood of dedication and sacrifice alone can
maintain and retain for us and liberty".

But even Old Testament prophets railed against
religious sacrifice. God was sick of sacrificial burnt
offerings and preferred justice and liberty for the

Paisley's more recent political breakthrough, according
to Bruce, reflects a secular calculation by voters that
too much was lost under David Trimble.

But religion remains embedded and so at times of crisis
people need a Goliath champion hence Paisley's
nomination. But we must bear in mind that all Goliath's
shouting and raving did not save him from young David's
seemingly puny sling and stone.

Steve Bruce's analysis can be turned on its head.
During the early 70s masses of people flocked to hear
Paisley during times of heightened political tension.
He would hold "political interludes" during church
services to slate political and religious opponents in
colourful language before preaching the "old time
religion". Today in contrast politics is apparently
missing from his preaching and smaller numbers attend
Martyrs Memorial. The 1991 Census recorded almost
12,500 Free Presbyterians but by 2001 this figure had
fallen to less than 12,000. The figures may be
contested but they hardly reflect glowing success and
religious decline is it seems, the price of political

Paisley now eats humble pie and greedily consumes the
apparently more secular policies of his opponents with
less than a fig leaf to cover embarrassment. Perhaps he
will accommodate opponents but in seeking to retain his
position as tribal leader he has only a limited pool of
potential support on which to draw. With an overall
decline in interest let alone support for all unionist
parties, reversal necessitates appealing to those who
share neither his religious stance nor his tribal
assumptions. Political success could bring further
religious decline and he appears to lack the moral
courage to nail his colours firmly to his mast.

Changes have taken place but at a frustratingly slow
pace. In 1963 Paisley led an impromptu protest at
Belfast City Hall against the lowering of the Union
Flag on the death of Pope John XXIII.

In contrast more than 40 years later on the death of
Pope John Paul II, while implying the latter might be
in Hell, he said, "We can understand how Roman
Catholics feel at the death of the Pope and we would
want in no way to interfere with their expression of
sorrow and grief at this time." But Paisley's dilemma
remains. To maintain success he must accommodate more
people and abandon dogmatism. But this would imply he
had been wrong a sign of weakness in his eyes.

As a result we face an ongoing circus of smoke and
mirrors with furrowed brows on the faces of the DUP


Opin: Irony Of DUP's Democratic View

If a prominent Sinn Fein representative had just
admitted that he was guilty of electoral fraud, we
would now be in the middle of a full-blown political

The DUP would probably be on the brink of withdrawing
from the forthcoming talks and Ian Paisley would
undoubtedly have highlighted his outrage during his
appearance at an event at the Labour Party conference
in Manchester yesterday.

However, as the guilty plea was actually entered by a
DUP politician, the former mayor of Coleraine Dessie
Stewart, responses on all sides have been extremely

The DUP is carrying out an internal investigation but
Mr Stewart, who is due to be sentenced next month,
remains a sitting councillor for the party in

Mr Stewart admitted a total of six charges relating to
the general and local government elections of May 2005,
when he appeared at Antrim Crown Court earlier this

They included pretending to be someone else in order to
cast postal votes at both district council and
parliamentary level and fraudulently preventing the use
of proxy votes.

By any standards, these were serious offences which
could only have been intended to influence the outcome
of the most recent elections to be staged in Northern

Mr Stewart is hardly a political newcomer, having
represented the DUP on Coleraine Borough Council for
more than 17 years.

He has also been active in the Orange Order, the Royal
Black Institution and the Apprentice Boys of Derry.

The day before Mr Stewart was in court, his party
colleague, the Rev William McCrea, spoke passionately
during a Stormont debate about his opposition to
sharing power with republicans.

Mr McCrea concluded that, in all the circumstances,
Sinn Fein had a very long way to go before it could be
accepted into government.

This may all be understandable, at a certain level, but
the great problem is that it is not only Sinn Fein
politicians who have a past.

As John Dallat of the SDLP immediately pointed out
during the same Stormont debate, Mr McCrea himself had
no difficulty in sharing a Portadown platform with the
sectarian mass murderer Billy Wright in 1996.

In the light of Mr Stewart's conviction for electoral
fraud, it was particularly ironic to hear Mr Paisley
tell the Labour conference less than 24 hours later
that Sinn Fein will have to `bow to the dawn of

Mr Paisley should be prepared to acknowledge that
respect for the democratic process must extend in all


More Than 1,000 Mourners At Michael Ferguson's Funeral

By Seanin Graham Health Correspondent

A LONE piper led more than 1,000 mourners to the gates
of St Teresa's chapel in west Belfast yesterday for the
Funeral Mass of Sinn Fein assembly member Michael

Black taxis, councillors and schoolchildren formed a
guard of honour as the funeral cortege wound its way
along Glen Road, less than a mile from Mr Ferguson's
family home.

The 53-year-old died suddenly on Monday morning from a
suspected heart attack.

He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer two months
ago and was preparing to undergo a second cycle of
chemotherapy treatment.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, Lisburn mayor Trevor
Lunn and representatives from the SDLP, Alliance and
Ulster Unionist parties packed into the small chapel,
while hundreds stood outside to pay their final

Father Martin Magill, a close friend of Mr Ferguson's,
celebrated the Mass.

He extended his sympathies to Mr Ferguson's family
including his partner Louise and four children, Aodh
T¢mas, Daibhibd, Aoife and Niamh.

Fr Magill began his homily by reading the last email he
had received from Mr Ferguson, 10 days before his
death, when he was receiving treatment in hospital.

"There's something very poignant about the last thing
someone says to us - or the last letter, email or text
message. I'd like to quote it because for me it gives
some idea of the sort of person he was," Fr Magill

Mr Ferguson had told him that he had gone through
surgery but had "bounced back" to take part in the
preparation for government committee at Stormont.

"In any event I survived my first chemo and had set up
my bed at a workstation so that folk would know that
`we do not lie down easy, we will not be still', and
that we could set aside our personal adversity and
still support others," Mr Ferguson had said.

An emotional Fr Magill told mourners that he had
"struggled" with what he was going to say since being
asked to officiate at the funeral.

"Over the last few days, since Michael's death on
Monday, many people have spoken about him," he said.

"They've talked about his courage, his dedication, his
hard work, his commitment to people.

"I've been trying to figure out what most struck me
about Micky - was it his courage in how he dealt with
the cancer?

"Was it his honesty in expressing his views?

"Was it his ability to disagree very strongly and I
mean very strongly and yet to remain on friendly terms?

"Was it his work on the ground involved in so many
community issues?

"Out of all the different qualities and abilities that
Michael had, one thing struck me more than anything
else. He cared.

"He cared passionately about Poleglass and the Colin
Area he put the work in, day and night, to make
Poleglass a better place."

"He also cared about his Church."

Fr Magill said that he was especially proud of his wife
and family.

Speaking after the burial at Milltown cemetery, the
priest said there was "still very much a sense of loss"
at Mr Ferguson's sudden passing.

"Many people still can't believe that someone so full
of life has gone.

"We can't let his work stop - but his passing is very
difficult to come to terms with."


Film-Maker Lambasts Excesses Of Irish Life

By Staff Reporter

The vulgar paradoxes of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland were
last night lambasted by film-maker John Boorman.

Speaking in Dublin before an exclusive preview of his
new film A Tiger's Tale, Mr Boorman presented a
commentary entitled: `The good, the bad and the ugly in
new Ireland'.

During the talk, Mr Boorman, famous for directing
Excalibur and Deliverance, slammed the nation's vices
such as binge drinking, racism and greedy lawyers.

Included in the performance was a veiled reference to
disgraced taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

"The superb staging of a state funeral rewarding a life
of blatant corruption," Mr Boorman said.


Museum Hosts `Farewell' Event

By Staff Reporter

MEMBERS of the public are being invited to attend a
farewell event at the Ulster Museum on Sunday, before
it closes its doors for redevelopment.

The afternoon of activities will mark the start of the
30-month closure as work gets under way at the Botanic
Gardens site.

The popular tourist attraction is not due to reopen
until 2009.

Two thousand souvenir cards will be handed out on
Sunday when the doors open at 2pm.

Curators will be on hand to help visitors enjoy a last
chance to see exhibits from the fashion, sculpture,
ethnology and painting collections.

The museum will continue its work with schools and
communities during the closure.


A Pirate's Life For She

All hands on deck for 'Pirate Queen's' pre-Broadway
launch in Chicago

By Molly Woulfe
Times Features Writer

This story ran on on Friday, September 29,
2006 12:45 AM CDT

Loose lips sink ships.

Yet the "Pirate Queen" crew is frank about the perils
of launching a $10 million musical about a lass with a
yen for men and mayhem.

Oh, the logistics.

Think tweaking a brand-new score by Alain Boublil (book
and lyrics) and Claude-Michel Schonberg (music), the
Tony-winning team behind "Les Miserables" and "Miss

Or teaching landlubbers to swing over a stage-sized
schooner. Then there are those costume fittings for
Elizabeth I.

"Queen" sails into previews Tuesday at the Cadillac
Palace Theatre and the world premiere run is Oct. 29
through Nov. 16.

Tony-winning director Frank Galati ("Grapes of Wrath")
sounded upbeat though his Irish epic won't drop anchor
in New York until March 2. Broadway previews were
previously scheduled to start Feb. 23.

"We have our ups and down," Galati said during
rehearsals at the Cadillac.

"Believe me, there are times when I think, 'Oh, my God,
I had no idea that this was going to be like this and
how am I going to get myself out of this one? Because
this is the tight corner, or this is a tricky problem,
this is a challenge.' What's in the foreground is --
oops -- all of a sudden in the background. So there are
many problems and many challenges."

The French composers don't deny the quasi-opera still
getting its sea legs.

"Everything seems to be going so well and you see all
these people dancing and singing and playing what
you've been writing and it goes from an abstraction to
a reality in a very nice way, usually," Boublil said.

"Then you get to the theater, where we are now, and
suddenly nothing works. The scene that was so charming
when you saw it on the floor, suddenly, when you see it
with the set, stopped every five seconds because of the
lights, it doesn't make any sense. You have to use all
your imagination to try to see what it will be at the

The process "is complicated, but beautiful," he

"It's very simple in our minds," Schonberg agreed.

Not that real life is simple. In fact, fate seems
determined to rock "Pirate Queen's" boat. Setbacks to
date range from physical mishaps (star Stephanie J.
Block suffered a rib-bruising fall through a trap door)
to emotional blows (company manager Eric Muratella died
suddenly Tuesday). But the show will go on.

"It's very difficult work," Galati stressed. "But it's
why we live, why we work. And to tell stories -- that's
our passion in the theater."

Based on real-life icon

No doubt "Pirate Queen's" title character would approve
this gung-ho attitude. The real-life, 16th-century
chieftain's daughter was passionate -- about the sea,
her ships and Irish solidarity in particular.

Grace O'Malley (the anglicized version of her name) was
nicknamed "the mother of all rebellions" for her
lifelong struggle against the Tudor reign. Her chief
rival/alter ego: Queen Elizabeth I. Block (of "Boy from
Oz" and the first "Wicked" tour) heads the 39-actor
cast as O'Malley and Linda Balgord ("La Cage aux
Folles") co-stars as the Virgin Queen.

Born Gr inne N¡ Mh ille (grahn-ya nee wall-ya) into a
seafaring Mayo clan in 1530, young Gr inne -- "Grania"
in the show -- was a born rebel. According to legend,
she chopped off her hair at age 11 so she could pass as
a boy aboard her father's Spain-bound ship. The stunt
earned her the nickname "Gr inne Mhaol" or "Gr inne the
Bald" in Irish.

Her parents wed her off to the well-connected Donal an
Chogaidh in 1546, but the teenage O'Malley undermined
her husband's reputation by outplundering him. Once
widowed, the mother of three coolly wed Richard-an-
Iarainn Burke (Richard-in-Iron) to bag his castle near
Newport in Mayo as a stronghold.

The union produced a son and gave Ms. Booty Call the
means to battle England for control of the Irish coast.
O'Malley and Elizabeth I met in 1593 to hammer out a
truce, a historic meeting between two larger-than-life
women. Both died in 1603.

The 2-1/2-hour musical features new songs that include
opening number "All Aboard the Ceol Na Mara" ("Music of
the Ocean") and "Sail to the Stars." Like "Wicked,"
women take center stage. Act I showcases O'Malley's
youth, Act II, her career as looter and lover.

Role reversal

For British actor Hadley Fraser, his role as Tiernan --
O'Malley's childhood friend-turned-first mate-turned-
beau -- "is a bit of a role reversal," he said in a
phone chat.

"I'm used to playing the romantic hero who sees the
distraught heroine and sweeps her off her feet," he
said, laughing.

"She's doing that to me. Not figuratively! It's a great
play, really, with a plot that hasn't played out in
musical theater before. I think it's about time,

It's also a departure for Boublil and Schonberg, who
tend to raid classic opera and literature (e.g.,
"Madame Butterfly" and Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables")
for waifish heroines to date. According to co-lyricist
John Dempsey ("Witches of Eastwick"), that's why his
collaborators embraced the project before "Wicked" was
a twinkle in Broadway's eye.

"One of the great attractions was writing a show for
two very strong female characters," Dempsey said.

"And they're parallel characters. They're both women
who were doing at the time what were considered men's
jobs. Queen Elizabeth stepped into her father's (Henry
VIII's shoes) and Grace O'Malley stepped into her
father's shoes as chieftain of the clan. When they come
face to face, it's a truly thrilling moment."

Ironically, the project is rooted in chick lit.
"Riverdance" producers Moya Doherty and husband John
McColgan proposed "Pirate Queen" to the composers,
pitching the book "Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas"
(1986) as a springboard.

Irish-American author Morgan Llywelyn wrote the 436-
page melodrama, a fictional account of O'Malley's lives
and loves. If flowery descriptions were prose, the book
would be worth a queen's ransom. "Grania" has eyes "the
shifting color of the sea" and matures "in the old
Gaelic world soon to be lost ... a world she would
remember, ever after, as having been suffused with a
silvery glow like the sea light on Cliara."

About a third of the musical is drawn from the book,
Fraser said. The gregarious Gaels are definitely the
heroes, he added.

"The Irish represent the good side that the audience
should support and they should hate the English,
unfortunately for me," the Londoner quipped.

"The Brits are bad and boo-able and evil. It's funny
for me, being the lone Englishman in the cast." For the
record, Galati has nixed dialect coaches, opting for a
"melting pot" of accents in lieu of true Mayo accents
that might confuse audiences.

Theater trendwatcher Brian Scott Lipton notes that
Galati raided the "Wicked" crew, bringing aboard Tony-
winning set designer Eugene Lee and lighting guru
Kenneth Posner. Coincidence? Not at all, just shrewd
marketing, he said. Like the witchy musical, "Pirate
Queen" is targeted at women who buy the bulk of theater
tickets, he said. But the swashbuckler has an added

"I think it will be a real mom-and-daughter show, but
they're hoping for across-the-board (appeal) with
pirate," the editor in chief of said.
"Maybe little brother will want to come, too, with dad.
They're playing both sides of the field."

Editor's note: Castcom interviews at contributed to this report.


"The Pirate Queen" (world premiere)

Credits: Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg
(lyrics and music) and John Dempsey (lyrics). Directed
by Frank Galati and starring Stephanie J. Block (Grace
O'Malley), Hadley Fraser (Tiernan) and Linda Balgord
(Queen Elizabeth I). Choreography by Mark Dendy,
costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting by Kenneth
Posner. Produced by Moya Doherty and John McColgan.

When: Previews begin Tuesday, Oct. 3 (through Oct. 28).
Opening night is Oct. 29 (through Nov. 26).

Where: The Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph
St., Chicago

Tickets: $28 to $85

Details: Call the Broadway in Chicago ticket line at
(312) 902-1400 or visit or

Broadway details: Previews begin March 2 at the Hilton
Theatre, 214 W. 43rd St., N.Y. Opening night is April

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