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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
September 29, 2006
Spy Can Give Video Link Evidence
News About Ireland & The Irish
BB 09/29/06 Spy Can Give Video Link Evidence
BN 09/29/06 Ahern Crisis Divides Government
BN 09/29/06 PSNI Officer Foils Suicide Bid
EI 09/29/06 Wind That Shakes the Barley: Echoes Of Ireland In Palestine
Spy Can Give Video Link Evidence
An American "super spy" who infiltrated the Real IRA is to
be allowed to give video link evidence at the Omagh bomb
High Court judge Mr Justice Morgan ruled that David Rupert
can give his evidence from the United States.
Mr Rupert is currently under FBI protection.
The judge had previously been told there would be a severe
risk to Mr Rupert's life if he was to give evidence in
It was claimed he was living at a secret address in the US
for his own protection as his evidence would amount to a
"devastating exposure" of the RIRA.
Lord Brennan, QC, leading the Omagh claimants legal team,
said: "His photograph has been put on a website to try to
obtain information about his whereabouts."
Mr Justice Morgan also announced that the case, brought by
some relatives of the 29 people killed and the scores
injured in the 1998 atrocity, will start on 16 April 2007.
The case is against alleged members of the Real IRA who
carried out the bombing and five of the organisation's
The most prominent is Michael McKevitt, 56, from Blackrock,
Co Louth, who is serving a 20 year sentence in Portlaoise
after evidence given by double agent Rupert led to his
conviction as leader of the RIRA.
The others are Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy, from Dundalk,
County Louth, Seamus Daly, Castleblayney, County Monaghan,
and Seamus McKenna, Silverbirdge, South Armagh.
The hearing is expected to last at least two months.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/09/29 19:20:22 GMT
c BBC MMVI
Ahern Crisis Divides Government
29/09/2006 - 18:10:17
The deepening crisis facing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern over
cash payments he accepted when Minister for Finance in the
1990s was tonight sharply dividing his Government.
As Cabinet colleagues and loyal TDs rallied around him, his
Progressive Democrats partners and one rebel Fianna F il
backbencher claimed he was politically compromised by the
On Tuesday, Mr Ahern admitted accepting a ?50,000 euro
(œ34,000) as yet unpaid loan from 12 friends in 1993/1994
and an œ8,000 (?11,800) speaking engagement fee in
Manchester in 1994.
Mr Ahern is due to give a full explanation on the
Manchester payments during a scheduled debate in the D il
But Government TD MJ Nolan and Minister of State Tom Parlon
today both claimed the cash compromised the Mr Ahern's role
as a minister.
Minister for Finance Brian Cowen and Minister for Foreign
Affairs Dermot Ahern today firmly defended their premier
while TD Barry Andrews branded the escalating crisis a
Dublin backbencher Barry Andrews said it would be a
complete farce if Mr Ahern's premiership comes to an end
over the crisis.
"I back the Taoiseach 100%. He's a superb leader when you
look at how he has united the party and performed on issues
like the economy and Northern Ireland.
Earlier Carlow TD, Mr Nolan said today: "He did compromise
himself by not making an effort to repay the loans."
"I think it's not in anybody's interests that a member of
Government should be beholden to anybody."
Mr Nolan was one of four rebel TDs who tabled a motion of
no confidence in former Taoiseach Charles Haughey in 1991.
T naiste Michael McDowell has warned that he is not
satisfied by Mr Ahern's explanation on the Manchester
payment and said very significant matters of concern
Minister of State and Progressive Democrats president Tom
Parlon said today: "I do believe, to whatever extent, he is
compromised. Like Michael McDowell said, I feel that he has
very serious questions to answer."
Mr McDowell today refused to comment further on yesterday's
remarks that there were significant areas of concern about
Mr Ahern's explanations.
"I've said everything I want to say on this matter
yesterday and I don't want to say anything to add or
subtract to that," he said.
Mr Ahern told reporters at the National Ploughing
Championships that he would answer the questions during a
special scheduled debate on Tuesday.
The latest developments pose the biggest-ever threat to the
two-party Coalition government, and the nine-year reign of
Mr Cowen, deemed my many to be Mr Ahern's most obvious
successor, spoke earlier today for the first time on the
The deputy Fianna F il leader robustly dismissed
suggestions of corruption and insisted Mr Ahern broke no
ministerial codes of ethics.
Mr Cowen said he believed Mr Ahern would be able to fully
answer all the questions during a scheduled debated in the
D il parliament next Tuesday.
"The Taoiseach has said the D il will be forum in which he
will seek to account for these matters," said Mr Cowen.
"There is no question of anything dishonest or corrupt
happening here. It does not become anybody to involve
themselves in that speculation.
"Where is there any evidence to suggest that he compromised
the performance of his public duties?"
He reiterated that the money was unsolicited and Mr Ahern
was speaking in Manchester in a personal capacity, rather
than in his role as Minister for Finance.
In addition, there were no formal guidelines in place in
1993, as there are now, in relation to the acceptance of
gifts by ministers, he insisted.
Earlier, Dermot Ahern reiterated that the Government was
stable and there was no possibility of the Progressive
Democrats pulling out.
"As far as I'm concerned the Coalition is very solid," he
Manchester businessman John Kennedy, who attended the
Manchester event, said the payment was neither a political
donation nor a loan.
He revealed it was organised by the late Tim Kilroe,
founder of Irish regional airline Aer Arann.
The dinner took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in the
city, which was then owned by Mr Kilroe.
Mr Kennedy said around 27 people were at the function and
that a collection was made for Mr Ahern, who did not speak
at the event.
"Most of the people around the table would have met him on
a previous occasion but there was no particular speech," Mr
Kennedy told RT News. "Somebody came up with the idea that
we should make a collection to give him something and that
Meanwhile Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea tonight blamed
a "media frenzy" and not the Progressive Democrats for
trying to topple Mr Ahern.
"Every half hour there is literally a new question or a new
allegation," he said.
"We're in the height of a media frenzy, the attempt being
of course to be the first person to strike the fatal blow
to remove Bertie Ahern. I can assure the nation now that
that is not going to happen."
He added: "The frenzy is being led by the media. It's
journalists who are ringing the Fianna F il press office.
It's journalists who are ringing me, not Michael McDowell."
Several Government TDs could not be contacted for comment
The People Before Profit Alliance announced it will be
holding an anti-corruption protest outside the D il
parliament to coincide with Tuesday's debate.
PSNI Officer Foils Suicide Bid
29/09/2006 - 18:53:23
A police motorcyclist dramatically foiled an attempted
suicide today by seizing a man as he tried to leap from a
multi-storey building in Belfast.
The constable clung on, despite cracking his head on
concrete, until other emergency services arrived to bring
the would-be jumper down to safety.
Senior officers praised his courage in stopping someone
from plunging to their death.
Chief Inspector Chris Noble said: "His quick thinking and
bravery saved the life of this individual."
The officer was on patrol when he was alerted to a man on
the roof of the high rise Russell Court office block on the
Lisburn Road, south Belfast.
He immediately went up in a bid to keep him occupied until
mediators could arrive on the scene.
But with only fire and ambulance staff there to back him
up, the constable's initial plans were scrapped as the man
started to climb over the ledge.
He dived after him and grabbed hold of a leg.
"Attempts were made to speak with the individual and calm
him down, but it appeared he was intent on jumping off the
edge of the building," Mr Noble added.
"The single police officer, assessing that he was about to
throw himself off, quickly moved towards him and pulled him
back from over the edge of the building.
"He was then assisted by paramedics and fire service
"In the course of that the officer sustained a number of
The man who tried to commit suicide is understood to have
been taken to hospital for treatment of any possible mental
Echoes Of Ireland In Palestine: A Review Of Ken Loach's New
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 September 2006
A still from The Wind That Shakes the Barley, UK director
Ken Loach's feature film set during the Irish Civil War in
Watching The Wind That Shakes the Barley, UK director Ken
Loach's new feature film set mainly during the Irish Civil
War in the early 1920's, it is impossible not to make
comparisons with contemporary events. Indeed Loach, whose
film won the Palme D'Or at Cannes, has been quite explicit
about his own view that the film is not merely an
examination of the past, but a comment on the times we live
in. Loach recently announced his support for the call by
Palestinian film-makers, artists and others to boycott
state sponsored Israeli cultural institutions and
acknowledged that "Palestinians are driven to call for this
boycott after forty years of the occupation of their land,
destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of
The film opens in 1920 in the rolling countryside of
Ireland. A group of young men are playing a boisterous
field game. As they get back to their village, they are
confronted by British soldiers. Their crime had been to
play Hurling, an ancient Irish sport similar to hockey. The
British had banned the sport because of its identification
with Irish nationalism, and because the hurley, the stick
used to play it, was used by resistance fighters in their
drills in lieu of difficult to obtain rifles. When one of
the young men, Micheail, refuses to give his name to the
British officer in English, he is beaten to death in front
of his family and friends, galvanizing them to rally to the
cause of the Irish Republican Army, fighting to rid Ireland
of British rule.
This painful scene is a timeless reminder that colonial
rulers-no matter how much they pretend to represent
civilization and democracy-maintain their power in the
manner of common street thugs: beating out people's teeth
and breaking their bones with rifle butts, and when that
doesn't work, torturing and killing them and destroying
their homes. This mentality is alive and well in Palestine-
Israel. The morning after I saw Loach's film, I was
confronted by two statements. The first was from the UN's
special rapporteur for Human Rights, the distinguished
South African jurist John Dugard who declared that the
situation Israel had created for ordinary Palestinians in
Gaza was "intolerable, appalling, and tragic" and that
Israel had turned Gaza into a giant "prison" and "thrown
away the key." The second statement came from Israel's
Trade Minister Eli Yishai who demanded that Israel should
completely raze Palestinian villages in Gaza until
Palestinians learn to submit quietly to their fate. "And to
do this village after village until they stop firing
rockets against us."
Yet The Wind That Shakes the Barley is no feel-good story
of a heroic indigenous resistance battling against the
foreign occupier. The narrative is centred on two
characters Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy (Padraic
Delaney), brothers who grow up to fight side by side
against the British, but then find themselves on opposite
sides in the brutal civil war.
Several events are key to understanding the civil war. In
1916 a group of Irish nationalist and socialist leaders
staged the Easter Rising in Dublin, proclaiming an
independent "Irish Republic." At the time they had
relatively little popular support, and the rising failed.
But the brutal British response, which included executing
the leaders of the uprising, spurred growing hostility to
British rule. In the 1918 general election to the British
parliament, the nationalist party Sinn F‚in won a landslide
on a platform of total independence from Britain. Although
its members refused to take seats in the British
parliament, they met in Dublin in January 1919 and ratified
the 1916 proclamation of the Irish Republic. The Irish
Republican Army, resisting the British, were adopted as the
armed forces of this state. The British banned the self-
proclaimed Irish parliament, and moved to crush Irish
resistance - the same violent approach the British took to
the leaders of the 1936-39 Palestinian uprising.
Exhausted by the war, leaders of the Irish Republic signed
the Anglo-Irish Treaty with the British government in 1921.
This established not an independent Ireland, but an "Irish
Free State," a dominion of the British Empire, whose
officials would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the
British Crown. The Treaty also partioned Ireland; the Free
State's jurisdiction extended only to twenty-six counties,
while six counties in the north, became Northern Ireland,
created to allow the Protestant minority, mostly descended
from settlers and loyal to the British but with centuries-
old roots in the country, to have their own state.
The Treaty bitterly split the Irish nationalist movement.
Those loyal to the Irish Republic of 1919 saw it as an
enormous betrayal of the independence struggle. I will not
be giving too much away by saying that the personal
consequences for the protagonists in the film are
catastrophic. In real life, families and communities were
torn apart and this dark period left a bitter legacy that
defined the main faultline in Irish politics for most of
the years since.
Through Palestinian eyes there is a strong echo with the
split that has emerged on the one hand between those who
view the 1993 Oslo Accords and a two-state solution (with a
Palestinian state to be created in a tiny fraction of
Palestine) as a reasonable and desirable settlement with
Israel, and those on the other who view the accords as a
sell-out that allowed Israel to maintain and expand its
colonial rule of Palestinians under the guise of a 'peace
process.' European Union officials like to make the
comparison between modern Sinn F‚in in Northern Ireland
renouncing armed struggle for purely political means with
what they hope Hamas will do. The comparison they do not
mention is between the banning of the Sinn F‚in MPs who won
the 1918 election and Israel's wholesale kidnapping of
Hamas legislators freely elected by Palestinians under
occupation in 2006.
Early in The Wind That Shakes the Barley, we see Irish
resistance fighters being tortured by British officers in a
prison. We see the same prison again later, but now Free
State officers are using it to hold and interrogate their
Republican former comrades. Yet another scene so
unfortunately reminiscent of what happened after Oslo. A
key difference to celebrate is that across Palestinian
society there remains a determination to avoid internal
conflict even though Israel and the United States have
often demanded that the Oslo-created security forces crush
continued resistance to Israel just as the Free State army
crushed and executed Irish Republicans with British-
supplied weapons. Palestinians must strive to ensure that
they are never pulled into such a trap.
Talk to almost anyone in Ireland today and they will tell
you it is not so simple, so black and white as the film
makes it appear. In 1949, the contested Free State became
the Republic of Ireland, recognized by all but a small
minority of Republicans. Today Ireland is a prosperous
independent country and a member of the European Union,
whose national mythology elides the Anglo-Irish Treaty and
Civil War and celebrates the "martyrs" of the 1916 Easter
Rising and the long struggle against British rule.
In the end it was possible to get the British out of most
of Ireland, allowing independence, but that was not enough
to bring peace. In the British-ruled six counties of the
north, continued oppression of the Catholic population led
to The Troubles, the thirty year war that broke out in
1968. Although violence has ended, a political settlement
acceptable to all the people who live there seems only
slightly closer than it was the day after partition. The
basic structure of the conflict in Palestine-Israel today
is like Northern Ireland writ large-two communities of
roughly equal size with nowhere else to go brought into
bloody confrontation by colonialism. There can be no
solution that preserves the domination of one over the
other and none that is good for everyone that comes out of
violence. A just solution based on full equality is still
be worked for and hoped for in Northern Ireland and in
Palestine-Israel. But as The Wind That Shakes the Barley so
movingly depicts, history does not always provide easy or
happy endings that fit neatly with passionately held
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and
author of One Country, A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-
Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006)