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October 14, 2006

All of Ireland To Vote on Deal

News About Ireland & The Irish

TO 10/15/06 All Of Ireland To Vote On Deal
II 10/14/06 McGuinness Oath Of Allegiance May Scupper New Deal
BB 10/14/06 Hain Confident Over NI Government
GU 10/15/06 Has Paisley Given In At Last To Temptation?
RT 10/14/06 Irish Language Act For Northern Ireland
TO 10/15/06 Protestant Alienation To Be Addressed At Convention
YH 10/14/06 Opin: Decades of Irish civil war test peaceful resolve
TO 10/15/06 Opin: Paisley Rewrites His History To Take Credit For Deal
TO 10/15/06 Heavily Armed Art Show Riles Gardai
TO 10/15/06 Art: Robert Ballagh
WF 10/14/06 Journey Home Pains Writer (Edna O’Brien)
SB 10/15/06 Truth About Sallins Robbery


All Of Ireland To Vote On Deal

Liam Clarke

IRISH people on both sides of the border will have to
approve the new Northern Ireland peace deal in simultaneous
referendums in March, according to Irish government

Rory Brady, the Irish attorney general, has been asked for
his advice on whether the St Andrews agreement unveiled by
the British and Irish governments on Friday will be
consistent with the Irish constitution.

The difficulty arises because the Good Friday agreement is
enshrined in the constitution. Government officials suspect
that it can be superseded only by a vote of all the people
of the island of Ireland, similar to the simultaneous poll
in 1998.

The St Andrews deal involves several changes to the
architecture set out by the Good Friday agreement. These
include the method of selection of first and deputy first
ministers at Stormont, the duties of ministers and the
roles of cross-border bodies.

Bertie Ahern, the taoiseach, mentioned the possibility of a
vote in comments after the agreement was announced. He said
“I understand that from a legal point of view it would be a
referendum of the whole island of Ireland.”

Ian Paisley, the leader of the DUP, said that, if there had
to be a referendum, he wanted it to be held in Northern
Ireland alone. But his party is unlikely to regard this as
a make-or-break issue because a vote would underline the
fact that the DUP has succeeded in securing fundamental
changes to the Good Friday agreement as it pledged to do.

Paisley’s party will also push for an election so it can
get a mandate to go into government with Sinn Fein. In the
last assembly election, the DUP said: “Inclusive, mandatory
coalition government which includes Sinn Fein is out of the

The Good Friday agreement says that the d’Hondt system
should be used — a mathematical formula by which ministers
are allocated to parties according to their strength at the
polls. The DUP had wanted a voluntary coalition by which
party leaders would negotiate the allocation of seats as
they do in most parliaments.

A referendum could give a chance for opposition to the
agreement to manifest. Robert McCartney, the sole assembly
member in the UK Unionist party, said he would demand equal
airtime and facilities for a “No” campaign.

“This is an agreement between liars and gunmen which has
been brokered by hypocrites,” said McCartney.

There are signs that both the DUP and Sinn Fein regard the
St Andrews agreement as providing a way forward. During
last week’s talks in Scotland there were signs of easing
tensions between the two parties, although they have yet to
meet and negotiate face to face.

Over the next three weeks, the DUP will discuss at what
point in the timetable outlined by the two governments it
is prepared to talk directly to Sinn Fein instead of using

Wilson has expressed cautious optimism. “Both sides are
intermeshed,” he said. “It is not a case of Unionists
moving and Sinn Fein sitting; both sides have to move
together. That is something that wasn’t achieved before and
which perhaps will ensure that we have success this time.”

His party colleague Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We are going
to consult in our party and the wider community over the
next few weeks. There is a lot of work to be done. If Sinn
Fein do their bit we may be in a position to move forward.”

Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein told the BBC he believed his
party would be able to sell the agreement to the wider
republican community.


McGuinness Oath Of Allegiance May Scupper New Deal


MARTIN McGuinness will be asked to swear an oath of
allegiance to the PSNI and the courts system in the North
before his party ratifies the new deal outlined at St

The man expected to serve with Ian Paisley in the offices
of First and Deputy First Minister in a new Stormont
administration will be expected to swear an oath of
commitment to the legal institutions of Northern Ireland
sometime after Sinn Fein's executive meets next month.

The requirement will place pressure on the SF leadership
which is expecting internal criticism over this pledge and
over backtracking on an assurance that the powers of their
ministers in a new executive will be undiminished.

Legislation being prepared by the British government will
clip the wings of all ministers in the new proposed power-
sharing administration at Stormont and require a collective
agreement on any potentially controversial decisions by

The joint statement from the two governments on Friday said
that the amended Ministerial Code of Conduct would "reflect
a requirement
for safeguards to ensure that all sections of the community
could participate and work together successfully in the
operation of these institutions and that all sections of
the community were protected".

The amended legislation, expected to go through the House
of Commons next month, will ensure that controversial
decisions made by any ministers in the first executive
could not be made without a collective agreement by the new

This Westminster legislation is expected to be approved
just three days before Paisley and McGuinness are sworn
into office, if both their parties accept the proposals.

Other proposed changes in the legislation would ensure that
where a decision of the executive could not be achieved by
consensus and a vote was needed, any three members of the
executive could require it to be taken on a cross-community

The thrust of the proposals outlined by the two governments
on Friday is perceived within the DUP to broadly meet their
objectives and reverse what they saw as the "malign"
aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, especially the almost
unilateral powers of individual ministers.

The restricting of ministerial powers could cause
resentment among SF's rank and file who saw the
unrestricted power of McGuinness and Bairbe de Brun on
education and health as one of the prime achievements of
the 1998 agreement.

But the requirement of Martin McGuinness to pledge support
to the the courts and the PSNI before his party has fully
ratified the St Andrews proposals could produce a major row
at the special conference in December.

Gregory Campbell, one of the DUP's negotiators, said
yesterday that both First and Deputy First ministers would
be asked to pledge support to the institutions of law and
order when they are sworn in as ministers on November 24if
the deal is approved byhis party. "We do not know what the
precise wording will be but our demand is that all parties
and all ministers fully subscribe to and support the rule
of law and the administration of justice. That commitment
has to be there," he said yesterday.


Hain Confident Over NI Government

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain says he is confident
that Sinn Fein and the DUP will be together in government.

A roadmap to restore devolution to Northern Ireland has
been revealed with a deadline of 26 March 2007 for a new
executive after talks in St Andrews.

Mr Hain hailed the "astonishing breakthrough" on BBC Five

He said just 48 hours earlier people could not bring
themselves to believe Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
would sit together in government.

Northern Ireland's parties have until 10 November to
respond to the plan, and if they agree with it a first
minister and deputy first minister would be nominated on 24

It follows three days of multi-party talks in Scotland.

'Clear deadline'

Mr Hain said: "What we now have in prospect is the
nomination, as quickly as November 24, of Ian Paisley the
DUP leader as first minister, and Martin McGuinness, the
Sinn Fein deputy leader and former IRA member, as deputy
first minister.

"That is an extraordinary thing that nobody expected to
happen within a month or so.

"Then, following consulting the electorate either by
referendum or by an election, the introduction of the
establishment of sustainable self-government from March
next year."

Mr Hain said Northern Ireland had been transformed and it
looked as if its politicians were catching up with that

"I am confident we can get there because people know we are
for real," he said.

"There could obviously be slips between now and then, who
knows with Northern Ireland, you can never be certain what
might come out of the woodwork.

"But one of the things that concentrated the politicians'
minds was the very clear deadline that we set of 24

Published: 2006/10/14 21:58:07 GMT


Has Paisley Given In At Last To Temptation?

The DUP leader appears ready to commit the greatest heresy
of all and walk up the aisle into power with his arch-enemy
Martin McGuinness

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday October 15, 2006
The Observer

Inside the airless, windowless lecture theatre of the
Fairmont hotel, St Andrews, the Rev Ian Paisley was given a
privileged seat. Alongside Eileen, his wife of 50 years,
Paisley sat in the front row reserved for British and Irish
ministers as they prepared for the entrance of Tony Blair
and Bertie Ahern.

The seating plan appeared to be a calculated gesture:
sending a signal that Paisley will soon enjoy the same
powers and privileges.

Last Friday's wooing extended to a behind-the-scenes award
ceremony. To mark Paisley 's 50th wedding anniversary, Tony
Blair presented him with a crystal bowl and then Bertie
Ahern gave him a handcrafted wooden bowl hewn from a walnut
tree on the site of the Battle of the Boyne, the sacred
spot for Ulster Protestants where William of Orange
vanquished James II in 1690.

As the two Prime Ministers entered the room on Friday
afternoon, the 80-year-old Democratic Unionist leader was
flanked by the majority of his Northern Ireland Assembly
team brought over en masse to demonstrate a united DUP.

The impression was transmitted of a party ready to do deals
and even swallow (from a hard-line unionist viewpoint) the
unpalatable prospect of sharing power with Sinn Fein.

One unionist commentator recalled the temptation of Christ
in the desert where Satan offered him all the riches and
power of the world if Jesus would only fall down and
worship him. 'Paisley in his long, dark night of the soul
will recall that story from the Gospels. He doesn't want to
meet his maker fearing that he has succumbed to the
temptations and trappings of power,' he said.

Yet judging by the views of his closest aides Paisley is
seriously contemplating the unthinkable - walking up the
aisle into government with former IRA chief of staff Martin
McGuinness as his deputy First Minister.

Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister was
'pleasantly surprised' that the DUP was willing to embrace
the two Prime Ministers' road map by Friday morning. If the
deal is secured as laid out by Blair and Ahern, the British
government believes it will be more historically
significant than the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

'This time everybody will be inside the tent, including Ian
Paisley. If he is in government with Martin McGuinness,
then it is well and truly over,' a senior government source
said last night. Others in the room believe the entire
package was a done deal before the parties had even arrived
at St Andrews.

Robert McCartney, the founder and sole Assemblyman of the
UK Unionist Party, is someone who could still cause Paisley
and his followers trouble if they decided to accept the St
Andrews Agreement.

Yesterday McCartney, a former ally of Paisley's in the
anti-Good Friday Agreement campaign, accused the DUP of
'breaking personal assurances' made to him that they would
not go into a mandatory coalition with Sinn Fein .

'What became very obvious on Friday was these negotiations
were only a stage show; the deal was done before they
arrived,' he said. 'Look at the way the two governments
were treating Paisley at the talks. He was treated as if he
had been elevated into the college of statesmen.'

While McCartney may act as a lightning rod for opposition
among disgruntled DUP activists, there are others inside
the Paisley camp who are queasy about the proposed deal.
DUP MEP Jim Allister said this weekend that he was
'reserving judgment' on the St Andrews document. Privately
it is understood Allister has major reservations. If he
were to come out and condemn the document, such a move
could seriously destabilise the DUP and perhaps frighten
off the leadership.

Certainly when he arrived on Thursday evening from
Brussels, Allister was surrounded by a phalanx of DUP
representatives who are known to be sceptical about a deal.
Yet within 24 one was putting up public resistance. That
lack of outright opposition thus far has been very
encouraging for both governments.

A majority of DUP representatives still appeared to be
satisfied this weekend with the outcome in Scotland. One
senior DUP member told The Observer: 'It's Sinn Fein that
has moved this time. They have accepted that there is a
precondition to getting into government - full support for
the police in Northern Ireland. They haven't got their
timetable to devolve policing and justice powers, which
they were demanding.'

A host of other concessions won by the DUP at the talks
included a promise from the British government that the
future of academic selection would be left to the Assembly,
thus saving the province's grammar schools, a cap on rates,
which have been subject to huge rises this year, an aid
package for any new Executive and further powers for the
Assembly to fix water rates, the number of district
councils and even lower corporation taxes to attract new

The focus has now shifted from Paisley to his old enemies,
the Provisionals. The Observer has learnt that Sinn Fein
plans to hold a special delegate conference in December
when the membership will be asked to endorse its stance on
policing in the north.

The Sinn Fein leadership is understood to be quietly confi
dent that it will win the day and thus unlock the final
door to the restoration of devolution. Unlike the DUP, Sinn
Fein is less likely to encounter serious internal
opposition .

The party is desperate to get into government in Belfast
because its strategists feel it will give the party a huge
electoral bounce in next year's general election in the

Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner turned writer,
believes that Gerry Adams and the Sinn Fein leadership can
secure enough support to allow them to recognise the
police. 'He (Adams) will get his way.'

Timetable for devolution

· 17 October 2006 A new Programme for Government Committee
meets at Stormont, with the heads of all the parties in the
same room.

· 10 November 2006 The final day for the Northern Ireland
parties to respond to the two governments' St Andrews

· 20-21 November 2006 Legislation is passed at Westminster
to make changes to the Good Friday Agreement and implement
the St Andrews deal.

· 24 November, 2006 Assembly meets to nominate First and
Deputy First Ministers - in all likelihood Ian Paisley and
Martin McGuinness.

· January 2007 The Independent Monitoring Commission issues
a report on IRA and loyalist ceasefires.

· March 2007 Elections or a referendum to endorse the St
Andrews Agreement.

· 14 March 2007 Parties nominate their ministers to the
powersharing executive.

· 26 March 2007 Power is finally devolved back to Northern


Irish Language Act For Northern Ireland

14 October 2006 19:47

The British government will introduce an Irish Language Act
in Northern Ireland as part of the agreement reached at St
Andrews yesterday.

In a joint statement issued by the Irish and British
governments it is claimed that the act will reflect on the
experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming
Northern Ireland Executive to enhance and protect the
development of the Irish language.

The Irish Language Act was one of Sinn Féin's demands going
into the talks.

The British Government also said that it firmly believes in
the need to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language,
heritage, and culture.


Protestant Alienation To Be Addressed At Convention

Ciaran O’Neill

A UNIQUE event funded by the government will this week try
to establish why Protestants feel alienated in Londonderry.

The Londonderry Community Convention will bring together
organisations and individuals to try to address sectarian
tensions within Northern Ireland’s second city.

The divisions have again been brought into focus as a
result of a nationalist-led legal application to have the
city’s official name changed from Londonderry to Derry.
Protestants cite this as the latest example of attempts by
the city’s Catholic majority to make them feel unwelcome.

The one-day convention in the city’s Guildhall on Tuesday
will incorporate a series of debates and workshops
involving representatives from local communities and
statutory bodies.

Politicians, including members of Sinn Fein and the SDLP,
will speak at the event which has been organised by the
Community Convention & Development Company. The
organisation has received £500,000 from the government to
hold a series of events throughout Northern Ireland to look
at problems affecting the Protestant community.

“The theme of the convention is building relationships,
getting support and tackling alienation,” Lee Reynolds, a
company spokesman, said. “It is important that we hear as
many views as possible so that we can begin to address the
problems which exist.”

The last census in Northern Ireland in 2001 recorded the
religious breakdown of Derry’s population as 77% Catholic
and 21% Protestant. The city is divided along sectarian
lines by the River Foyle. One side, the west bank, is
almost entirely Catholic, apart from the Protestant
Fountain estate which has about 200 households, while the
Waterside area is predominantly Protestant.

The Fountain estate is divided from neighbouring Catholic
areas by a large security wall and fencing, but has been
attacked regularly by nationalist youths in recent years.
Residents of surrounding Catholic areas have also had their
homes attacked from within the Fountain.

Donna Best, a resident of the Fountain, whose family have
been victims of sectarian attacks on several occasions,
says life is difficult for Protestants in Derry. She hopes
that this week’s convention will provide an opportunity for
those within her community to have their say.

“It is important that people understand how we feel and
that something is done to try to tackle these problems,”
Best said. “I plan to go along to this event and I would
encourage other people from the Protestant community to do
so and make their voices heard.”

Martina Anderson, a former IRA prisoner who lives in Derry,
has been appointed by Sinn Fein as director of unionist
engagement. She welcomed the chance to hear the views of
Protestant people living in the city.

“It is important that we develop an understanding of the
Protestant population’s feelings of alienation in the city
and look at ways of addressing this,” she said.

“The hope would be that this would also have a positive
impact on other areas where there is institutionalised
alienation of nationalists.”


Opin: Decades of Irish civil war test peaceful resolve

Office Hours Chat: Jolyon Howarth
By Holly Ovington

On Mon., Oct. 9, the two warring sides of the conflict in
Northern Ireland held groundbreaking peace talks to resolve
their ongoing hostilities. The feud between Protestants and
Catholics in Ireland can be traced to 1921, when the
Government of Ireland Act partitioned the North from the
Irish Free State. This division occurred because Ireland
was largely Catholic at the time, whereas Northern Ireland
had a larger population of pro-United Kingdom Protestants.
Thus, when the Irish War of Independence began in 1916, the
situation of these U.K. sympathizers became the country’s
supreme political problem. In 1922, Ireland’s newfound
independence from Britain marked the start of another
struggle: one of sectarian violence led by extremists among
both the Unionists (mostly Protestant, who want to stay
part of the U.K.) and the Nationalists (mostly Catholic,
who want to unify with Ireland). When Protestant Reverend
Ian Paisley, leader of the Ulster Unionists party, met with
Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady this Monday, many claimed
that the talks would lead to a more stable North. The
Herald spoke with Visiting Political Science Professor
Jolyon Howorth, a professor of European politics at the
University of Bath, about the conflict in Ireland and the
prospects for peace.


Professor Jolyon Howorth speaks out on the Irish conflict.

Yale Herald: Given the deep-rooted segregation in Northern
Ireland, can any current political process hope to overcome
the long-running prejudices?

Jolyon Howarth: The move towards a political process is not
the same thing as a political solution. I feel intuitively
that the only long-term solution is the reunification of
Ireland, particularly in the context of the continuing
integration in the EU. But, before we get there, there is a
very long process of redistribution, reconciliation,
hopefully shifting the communities in a more mixed
environment than we see today. All the evidence as I
understand it shows that the people of Northern Ireland are
sick to death of all this and wish only to get on with the
reconciliation and the political process. It will, however,
also require no small amount of distribution, because
currently the Catholic majority is among the economically
disadvantaged. That is a delicate situation.

YH:Do you think it would have been possible to have granted
full independence to Ireland at the beginning of the 20th
century, when the War of Independence had just begun in

JH: I think that if Ireland had had a leader with a
historical vision of the kind that [Charles] de Gaulle
showed in Algeria, yes. De Gaulle knew Algerian
independence was inevitable, and gave those French
affiliated residents a choice; return to France or stay in
Algeria without the protection of the French government.
Now, had you had a leader in Britain with that sort of
historical vision, who understood that sooner or later
Ireland was going to be one island with one state and one
government—and I believe it will be—it could have been
possible. It would have been very messy and painful for
those who had to relocate, but the Civil War and subsequent
violence could have been avoided.

YH: What role are radical politicians such as Paisley and
Gerry Adams playing, and do they help or hinder the cause
of peace?

JH: They certainly give the impression of having hindered
the process, but the extent to which they are the
constantly reelected representatives of certain
constituencies in Northern Ireland means that,
unfortunately, we can’t do without them. So while they have
for a long time been an obstacle to a rapid peace process,
they ultimately are the actors in any future political
solution. However, Paisley’s meeting with the Catholic
Archbishop Monday was unprecedented. It shows, one can only
hope, that Paisley has realized that cooperation is
necessary for the process to continue and peace to be

YH: During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the United States
made it clear that peace in the North was something it
wanted to work toward, whereas the current administration
has shown little or no interest. Why do you think this
change has occurred?

JH: The situation was critical when Clinton came to power.
Clinton was deeply committed to the principles of the new
world order, intervention in situations where he felt the
U.S. could help. Once it became clear that the U.S. was the
main backer source for IRA fighters, the U.S. was a player
in the game whether it liked that or not. Clinton also
discovered that Blair was prepared to do something to
unblock the boat jam, and was able to work toward a
solution with him. As far as the Bush administration is
concerned, there are three main things. First, a peace
process seemed to be underway anyway. Second, it’s such a
local, insignificant quarrel in the eyes of this
administration, who made it clear from the very beginning
that it was going to be selective in getting engaged
politically in international affairs. And third, the
administration was simply far too preoccupied with other
things to turn its attention to Ireland.


Opin: Paisley Brazenly Rewrites His Own History To Take Credit For This Deal

Last Friday in St Andrews, as he rose to welcome the
agreement outlined by the British and Irish governments,
Ian Paisley made a moving and statesmanlike speech. He
remembered victims of violence and the poor. He spoke of
reconciliation and peace. The high point of his oratory was
a striking image: he spoke of a political fork in the road
and called for an election to allow people to choose the
way forward.

“Today we stand at a crossroads,” he said. “We stand at a
place where there is a road to democracy and there is a
road to anarchy. I trust that we will see in the coming
days the vast majority of the people taking to the road of

Had he been able to hear Paisley’s words, Captain Terence
O’Neill, the prime minister of Northern Ireland at the
outset of the Troubles, would have done a proverbial spin
in his grave.

In 1969, O’Neill found himself in a very similar position
to the one Paisley is in today. He called a snap election
to the Stormont assembly in order to secure support for a
new policy of rapprochement with the Irish republic, a new
openness to the Catholic church and the nationalist
community. It was a far less radical package than the St
Andrews agreement unveiled last week.

It did not, for instance, include power sharing or cross-
border institutions, much less sharing a government
department with Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, as Paisley
will have to do if the St Andrews agreement is implemented
in full. It proposed more modest measures, such as an end
to gerrymandering and a listening ear to the demands of the
civil rights movement for equal citizenship.

The unionist prime minister launched the campaign with a
television broadcast in which he appealed directly to the
people of Northern Ireland.

“Ulster stands at a crossroads,” he told them. “What kind
of Ulster do you want? A happy, respected province . . . or
a place continually torn apart by riots and
demonstrations?” It is one of the best-known political
speeches in the history of Northern Ireland. It is often
described as prophetic and as a moment of lost opportunity
when history might have taken a different, and happier,

O’Neill’s pronouncement was welcomed by the Civil Rights
Movement and most of the province’s newspapers, as well as
a huge majority vote in the Unionist party.

It was, nevertheless, his obituary.

Because his peace package was too much for Paisley, who led
an “O’Neill must go” campaign. The prime minister was
brought low at the subsequent election by an anti-reform

Yet last week Paisley never turned a hair as he borrowed
the imagery, and arguably the political clothes, of the man
he has boasted that he destroyed.

Chief among Paisley’s criticisms of O’Neill was his
supposedly “Rome-ward trend”. This was allegedly shown in
the prime minister’s visits to Catholic schools, where he
had the temerity to sip tea with nuns, and in his
invitation to Sean Lemass, the then taoiseach, to visit him
in Stormont, where Paisley pelted the southern leader with
snowballs. Last week he beamed with pleasure when Bertie
Ahern, Lemass’s successor as taoiseach and leader of Fianna
Fail, presented him with a 50th wedding anniversary

It was a bowl carved from a walnut tree that had once grown
on the Boyne battlefield near Drogheda. Paisley and his
wife, Lady Eileen, took it home to show to their children
and grandchildren at a family gathering in Belfast’s Malone
House. It was the same hotel in which they held their
wedding reception in 1956. Then Paisley was organising the
Ulster Protestant Action Force, a body that organised
vigilante patrols and drew up lists of IRA suspects.
O’Neill accused him, under parliamentary privilege, of
association with the illegal UVF and of “tendencies towards
Nazism and fascism”.

So heated was the campaign against O’Neill’s 1969 reform
package, which is far less than the DUP leader is now
envisaging, that Paisley was jailed for breaking the law
and defying the police as he blocked a civil rights parade.
He was released after six weeks under a general amnesty for
political prisoners, just the sort of amnesty he has spent
the rest of his life opposing.

“Captain O’Neill has sown the wind, now he is reaping the
whirlwind,” declared Eileen Paisley as she campaigned for
her husband’s release.

As the violence mounted with a series of bomb explosions of
disputed origin, the Scarman report into the disturbances
said of Paisley: “His speeches and writings must have been
one of the many factors increasing tension in 1969.” In
court a loyalist suspect testified to the inflammatory
effects of Paisley’s rhetoric on the misguided when he
declared: “I wish I had never heard of that man Paisley or
decided to follow him.”

Could this be the same Ian Paisley who, just two weeks ago,
injected hope into the political process by meeting
Archbishop Sean Brady, the leader of the Roman Catholic
church in Ireland, and even identified a common political
agenda with the prelate? As unionist leader after unionist
leader tried vainly to stabilise the situation and halt the
slide into violence in the 1970s, Paisley opposed each of
them as an appeaser and a quisling. “I have brought down a
captain and could bring down a major as well,” he boasted,
in a reference to O’Neill and his successor, Major James
Christopher Clarke. Brian Faulkner, Harry West, James
Molyneaux and David Trimble were among those he went on to
target and supplant.

At each round Paisley and his party, at first named the
Protestant Unionist party, but rebranded as the Democratic
Unionist party in 1971, emerged a little stronger.
Meanwhile, the province sank a little deeper into the
violence and anarchy Paisley has now vowed to end.

Could this be the same man who has offered a deal to the
organisation he describes as “Sinn Fein/IRA”? He told them:
“You have a choice to make and a delivery to make. We
expect you to deliver, as you expect us to play our part,
which we will do. The Democratic Unionist party has never
broken any pledge it has made. It will do it.”

Such claims to consistency can be taken with a pinch of
salt. Last week he warned Sinn Fein to support the police,
saying: “We can’t have anti-police people as government
members; it is not on and it is not going to be on.” Yet in
the past he has said he would as soon “trust the devil as
an RUC man” and has told officers not to “come crying to
me” when they were burnt out during the anti-Anglo Irish
agreement protests that surrounded his Ulster Says No

When it emerged John Major had been in secret contact with
republicans aimed at securing an IRA ceasefire, Paisley
denounced him, claiming “you have sold out Ulster to buy
off the fiendish republican scum”.

Now, 12 years into the ceasefire Major and Albert Reynolds
helped to achieve, Paisley is reaping the rewards of their
efforts. He says he is willing to take his place as first
minister in Stormont, sharing power in a mandatory
coalition with Sinn Fein.

Whether Paisley has the chutzpah to claim as his legacy
something he has opposed all his life remains to be seen.
This week it looks as if he will. After all, he has one
advantage that O’Neill, Trimble and his unionist leader
predecessors did not. Paisley’s trump card is that there is
no Ian Paisley waiting in the wings to attack his motives,
to exploit his weaknesses and to call him a traitor.

That is the best omen that could be hoped for.


Heavily Armed Art Show Riles Gardai

Mark Tighe

WHILE Northern Ireland politicians held peace talks in
Scotland last week, a former arsonist turned artist was
recreating IRA decommissioning as part of the Dublin
theatre festival.

The only problem with his piece of “installation art” at an
old tenement house in Dublin’s north inner city was that it
was done without garda permission, despite using an arsenal
of genuine and imitation firearms.

Over four days last week, 150 people were transported to
the north Dublin house in a blacked-out bus so they could
relive the experience of General John de Chastelain, who
verified IRA decommissioning.

Two men in black leather jackets and northern accents led
spectators, who were warned not to speak to each other,
around the house that was filled with disassembled guns and
spent ammunition.

“There hasn’t been any documentation of decommissioning so
we wanted to give citizens the chance to experience the
process first hand, without intermediaries,” said Gerard
Mannix Flynn, the artist, whose company Far Cry Productions
staged the event.

The final room of the house was a store containing genuine
rifles, handguns and ammunition. Flynn, who has served time
in Mountjoy jail for arson, said he had sourced the
weapons, including rifles, Berettas and AK-47s, from people
who had licences. Although he would not specify how, Flynn
said that the guns were not difficult to obtain.

On Friday a garda spokesman said he did not believe that
holding the firearms was illegal as long as they were
licensed, but permission for their use in a public event
should have been sought.

“The usual practice for the use of firearms in any
theatrical event is to ask permission from the local
superintendent,” he said. “We should know of the presence
of large numbers of weapons like this.”

Yesterday gardai visited the installation and took all the
firearms away to ensure that they were deactivated.

Flynn, with the backing of the festival organisers, decided
not to seek permission from the garda because he wanted to
avoid “making the authorities nervous”.

“If we had asked permission we probably wouldn’t have got
it,” said Flynn. “What we wanted to do was subversive and
given the hazy nature of the law we believe we’ve done
nothing illegal. Having guns from Woolworths wouldn’t have
had the same impact. But none of them is usable because
triggers have been removed and it can’t be illegal if there
is no intent to use them.”

According to Don Shipley, artistic director of the
festival, the show — Letting Go of That Which You Most
Ardently Desire — was a worthwhile risk.

“Sometimes you do have to cut through the restrictions and
maybe apologise later,” he said.

“We asked for assurances and were given them. There were
potential landmines, no pun intended, but this was
something we had to support. It generated a lot of
excitement. I think people who went on this process are
richer for it.”

Flynn, who is a member of Aosdana, said the aim of his
artistic project was to empower those who participated to
make an impact on the peace process.

“We are putting people in the presence of murderous
weapons,” he said. “We are calling sharply into focus that
the decision to kill lies with people. We hope every
citizen is empowered to put pressure on the politicians to
make politics work.”

After touring the decommissioning site, the audience is
bussed back to hear a talk in a room above Thomas Read’s
pub. The windows have been backlit to portray 68 portraits
of those who took part in the 1916 rising.

The piece has had mixed reviews but Flynn said the reaction
of the audience, which included members of the government,
the Democratic Unionist party and family members of those
who died in the Troubles, was positive.


Art: Robert Ballagh

His art has an iconic stamp, but Robert Ballagh’s RHA show
also reveals the flaws of his best laid plans, says Cristin

Until four years ago, Robert Ballagh held a rather unusual
position. He was the only Irish artist who could say,
without hesitation, that every single person in the
republic was intimately familiar with his work, even if not
everyone knew it. As the designer of the last series of
Irish pound notes, he had reproductions in every home,
office, shop and, moreover, pocket in the country. But
because we saw his punts every day, we had for the most
part ceased to look at them closely or even consider from
whose hand the images had come. Ballagh is probably the
closest thing Ireland has to a state artist, and yet he has
been one of the least celebrated.

That is the argument driving the current flurry of Ballagh-
related activity in Dublin. After an absence of more than
20 years from the capital’s gallery scene, Ballagh is
suddenly everywhere. A show of studio works at the Gorry
gallery was followed by another at the Axis in Ballymun,
while the GPO recently exhibited the 66 stamps he has
designed for An Post. But the most significant gesture of
all comes from the Royal Hibernian Academy’s Gallagher
gallery, which marks his career with a full-scale

Whether his artistic merit has matched his high visibility,
however, is a subject of debate. Since 1967, Ballagh has
made an extremely good living as an artist who moonlights
as a designer, although there are those who would argue it
is the other way around. He has certainly managed to
combine both roles with success and has also been able to
square his radical politics with work that places him
firmly within the establishment of official Ireland.

Hence the artist behind one of the most popular portraits
in the National Gallery collection, in which the painted
beach beneath the late socialist Dr Noel Browne’s feet
tumbles out into the room as a pile of real pebbles, is
also the designer of theatre sets for Riverdance.
Similarly, the creative force behind the opening ceremonies
for the 2003 Special Olympics and this year’s Ryder Cup is
the same artist who, in 1972, splashed animal blood on the
floor of the Project arts centre for an installation about
Bloody Sunday.

Ballagh had the strange fortune to make it as an artist
long before he had developed the necessary skills for the
job. These days, he readily admits that his early output
was limited by his lack of aesthetic training; the reason
his Portrait of Gordon Lambert, for example, features a
silk-screened face is simply that he was not very good at
painting faces back in 1972. But lack of ability was never
something that was going to stand in his way.

From the beginning, Ballagh regarded producing art as a
job. Like any livelihood, there were skills to be learnt
along the way. He began with an apprenticeship to the
painter Michael Farrell and taught himself the rest.
Because it was a job, art also had to pay, which is why
Ballagh took design work as often as he could and made no
apologies about it. In an early self- portrait, Number 3
(1977), which features his young family outside their
Stoneybatter home, Ballagh reads a book (which conveniently
covers his face) entitled How to Make Your Art Commercial.

Ballagh had studied architecture, resulting in an artistic
working method that relied on T-squares and tracing paper
more than the naked eye. He has always worked from
photographs and he has always planned his paintings down to
the last detail before beginning them. If he has developed
a signature approach, it is that the planning and
construction of his works is arguably more important than
the actual painting of them.

True to form, he has designed a new layout for the RHA
gallery, carving the cavernous upstairs space into a
labyrinth of rooms in which the works are laid out in
largely chronological order. The arrangement is not
entirely successful: the compositions often feel boxed in.
In particular, his life-sized People Looking At series from
the 1970s has barely enough room to breathe.

This is unfortunate because it is here that we first
encounter seminal Ballagh: each painting has an instant,
iconic visual appeal. The trompe l’oeil effect they produce
is good fun, but it also asks questions about the nature of
modern art and its audience.

Although Ballagh made his first big splash with the People
Looking At paintings — not least because his reproductions
of Pollock, Lichtenstein, Rothko and the rest were so
convincing — he made a conscious decision to move away from
them when he realised he could get trapped by such a
commercially viable trick.

He has always seemed more concerned that people would
understand his work than that they would like it. To that
end, he adopted a modern realist style, layered with signs
and symbols. His portraits present their subject surrounded
by props, which appear to be clues to aspects of their
public or private persona. While this is an approach
steeped in the tradition of masters such as Holbein and Van
Eyck, Ballagh doesn’t always know when to stop.

His portraits work best when he resists the temptation to
literally add bits on. His cluttered Portrait of Bernadette
Greevy (1979) seems to sidestep its core task, while the
three-dimensional elements of his 2001 Portrait of the
Artist Michael Farrell give it the unfortunate air of a
shop window display. Yet Ballagh’s simple oil painting of
Bernadette Devlin (1999) exudes an intensity he has seldom
achieved elsewhere.

Even when he goes too far, there is something iconic about
Ballagh’s portraits, but it does not result in great art.
His Gerry Adams (1997/8), with its heavy-handed homage to
Caspar David Friedrich, is flat and uninspiring; and his
Alex Maskey (2004) looks like a poster for the tourist
board. That these are among the laziest of his portrait
compositions seems oddly out of line with Ballagh’s own
republican stance. But, then again, it has never been
difficult to find contradictions in the artist’s approach.

This show plays down the fact that his radical socialist
and republican leanings have not always appeared to tally
with the work he has carried out (though he has painted
polemical murals in west Belfast). Instead, it presents him
as an artist for whom getting the work done, and getting it
out there, has been more important than who was footing the

When he gets it wrong, however, he gets it very wrong. He
began this century with a bland Irish landscape series that
is all style and no substance. Back in 1968, he produced
Burning Monk, which was intended as a bitter comment on the
media, though has all the punch of a corporate logo.

It’s not that Ballagh isn’t passionate about what he has to
say, but his paintings are peculiarly restrained, his
concepts contained and exceptionally controlled. What’s
missing is to be found in the contrast between his own
cool, flat style and the expressive splashes of the Pollock
he so faithfully copied back in 1972. Careful planning can
never produce a work of art that hits you in the gut: this
has always been Ballagh’s problem.

He once joked that, for all his artistic output over the
past 40 years, he will probably be remembered best for the
stamps he has designed. If that were the case it would
almost certainly bother him, yet it contains more than a
grain of truth. Now in his early sixties, he has every
right to wonder what his legacy might be.

Back in the 1970s, he was an artist on the dole; now he
continues to earn royalties from Riverdance and has been
instrumental in getting the Irish government to introduce
artists’ resale rights on paintings sold at auction. Few
artists can truly say they have touched a nation with their
work — and there’s the rub. Love him or hate him, Ballagh
has become part of the fabric of Irish art, as iconic a
figure as he could imagine himself.

Robert Ballagh: A Retrospective is at the RHA, Dublin,
until October 22


Journey Home Pains Writer

BOOKS: Edna O'Brien says her latest novel is not
autobiographical, though it is intensely personal

09:29 AM CDT on Saturday, October 14, 2006

By JOHN FREEMAN / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning

LONDON – Edna O'Brien is going home to Ireland, and she
hasn't even begun to pack yet.

"I'm very sorry," says the novelist, apologizing for the
lateness of the hour, as she heads for the upstairs parlor
of her South Kensington home. It is from this quiet, book-
lined room that she has viewed her Ireland, her County
Clare. Fifteen novels, half a dozen plays and numerous
short stories have poured forth – all of them about her
home country – establishing her as one of Ireland's
greatest living writers.

She is heading to Ireland to mark the release of her 18th
work of fiction, The Light of Evening, a novel about a
famous writer coming home to Ireland to her dying mother.
It is symbolically loaded territory for Ms. O'Brien, which
explains the extra nervousness about the trip.

"My mother hated, went to her grave, shocked, outraged,
that I was a writer," Ms. O'Brien says, seated now, her
huge, expressive eyes clouding with emotion. "She saw that
I had some gifts. She resented it and yet wanted us to be
bound together. And that's very unnerving."

Rather than bury this tension, Ms. O'Brien has given her
mother her wish. In The Light of Evening she has taken the
letters her late mother wrote to her during the course of
her life and spliced them almost verbatim into a fictional
story, mother and daughter bound together indeed.

"The letters were little masterpieces of her own life in
her own existence," Ms. O'Brien explains, "and they
captured everything: all the little strangleholds she
placed on myself. They had to see the light of day."

In the novel, 78-year-old Dilly goes to the hospital, where
she learns she has ovarian cancer. While nurses attend to
her, Dilly awaits the return of her famous writer daughter,
Eleanora. Dilly passes the time reminiscing on her own
journey away from Ireland and to America in the '20s,
recalling the guilt-inducing letters her own mother wrote
to her.

The book then jumps back to Eleanora's grown-up life in
London, where she is lonely and homesick.

At every step of the way there are letters from mother to
daughter. The book ends with a powerful stream of them.
They are loving, yearning, accusatory. "I wouldn't want you
to deny your mother like Peter who denied Christ," Dilly
writes in one dagger of guilt.

Ms. O'Brien says she was understandably "quite jittery"
when she received letters like this from her mother. Like
the fictional Eleanora, Ms. O'Brien was born in a small,
rural Catholic village in the west of Ireland, the
population just 200. She escaped this provincial life by
attending pharmaceutical college in Dublin, then eloping to
London with her husband, the Czech writer Ernest Gebler.
She never moved back.

But her life has hardly "been a romp," as she says. She
divorced Mr. Gebler in 1964 and raised her two children
alone. In 1966, when she published her first book, The
Country Girls, it was banned, then publicly burned by her
parish priest back home in Ireland.

Inked out by mom

Her mother went through the tale, about two girls trying to
escape the strictures of their convent life, and inked out
any offending words.

"She hated the written word," Ms. O'Brien says. "The line
in the book 'Paper never refused ink' was one of her more
caustic lines about my writing."

For all the points of contact between this book and her
life, though, Ms. O'Brien, 75, insists this is not a veiled
autobiography. "This is a version of my life, an imaginary
version of it," she says. "I don't know anything about my
mother's life in Brooklyn; all I know is she worked in
America as a maid and came home and married somebody in

Nor is it a settling of scores. "My mother was an amazing,
powerful woman," Ms. O'Brien says, "but she was also lost."

In order to fill in the gaps in her story, she traveled to
New York and visited Ellis Island. "I walked up and down
streets in Brooklyn, I took that ferry out to the Statue of
Liberty over and over again," she says, "and then I just
got so despairing. I thought, 'I don't know this world! I
don't know it!' "

She was relieved when the Irish-American memoirist Frank
McCourt read the manuscript and told her she had got it
right. "That meant a lot to me."

Like Mr. McCourt, Ms. O'Brien has a complicated
relationship with Ireland. She loves the country, but it
has not always loved her back so forcefully.

Her first six books were banned, and critics often treated
her later books with "excessive contempt," she says.

She pauses to show the James Joyce medal she finally
recently received. "There, put that piece of metal around
your neck," she says, joking, before indicating that the
medal had indeed meant something to her.

Asked whether she thinks her reputation has suffered
because she is a woman, she does not pause before
answering, "Absolutely. The hard part about being a writer
in the big wide world is being a woman, too, because they
don't want or expect a woman writer to be in the same

Still going

But this has not stopped Ms. O'Brien, the books coming at
such regular intervals that she has begun to be regarded as
something of a force of nature. Bad reviews still hurt, and
good ones cheer, but "I will have the last word," she says
with a laugh. Much of her time is spent in this room, her
study, where she works in longhand, a typist stopping by
when composition has ceased.

She lives so fully in the life of her mind that as the
light falls, she begins to trip down a path of associations
and, midconversation, quotes at length from Joyce or

In the past few decades, these two writers have been her
adopted ancestors, her imaginary countrymen. The venerable
Yale professor and critic Harold Bloom wrote her a letter
after reading The Light of Evening. "Joyce I think is your
mother, in this book," he wrote, "and Joyce influenced
Faulkner, your father."

Ms. O'Brien has never been to the South, but she
understands the mythological similarities between her
fiction and Faulkner's. "In the part of Ireland I come from
there are the big houses, the ruined houses, the blood
boiling in the land, 'the silence underneath which is
simmering so much.' "

Sitting in almost total darkness now, Ms. O'Brien says if
there was one book she would have loved to have written
herself, it would be As I Lay Dying, Faulkner's novel about
the Burden family's trek across Mississippi to bury Addie,
wife and mother, in the town of her choice. "It's a
wonderful book, I love it," she says, a reverential hush

With The Light of Evening, she may have just achieved her

John Freeman is president of the National Book Critics


Truth About Sallins Robbery

15 October 2006 By Nicola Cooke

The IRA received almost £1 million (€1.27 million) from the
Sallins train robbery in 1976, but the 17 men who carried
out the raid never got a penny, according to a new book on
the robbery.

In an interview with the book’s author, journalist Patsy
McGarry, one of the robbery’s main organisers recalled
rehearsing the heist for six weeks before it took place,
and having to push a white getaway van up a hill in Lucan,
Co Dublin, such was the weight of the stolen money. The
gang robbed the Cork-Dublin mail train near Sallins, Co
Kildare, on March 31, 1976. Reports at the time suggested
that £200,000 was stolen, but it has since emerged that the
amount stolen may have been up to five times that.

Four members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party –
Osgur Breatnach, Nicky Kelly, Brian McNally and John
Fitzpatrick – were arrested in connection with the robbery.
They allegedly confessed to the robbery during
interrogation in Garda custody.

While awaiting trial, Kelly jumped bail and left the
country. He was tried in his absence along with Breatnach
and McNally, before the non-jury Special Criminal Court.
The three were found guilty on the basis of their
confessions, and sentenced to between nine and 12 years in

Kelly returned to the country in 1980 after Breatnach and
McNally’s convictions were quashed on appeal, expecting to
be acquitted, but he served four years before being
released on humanitarian grounds.

He received a presidential pardon in 1992.

In the book, While Justice Slept: The True Story of Nicky
Kelly and the Sallins Robbery, McGarry interviewed, for the
first time, a number of the people who actually robbed the

‘‘I interviewed one of the leaders, who is now about 60,
but who carried out raids for the IRA for over 12 years,”
McGarry said. ‘‘He was known to the gardai at the time, and
said that, ten minutes after he returned from the Sallins
job and had gone to bed, the guards were at his door. They
asked him his whereabouts in the previous few hours and he
told them he had been asleep.

“All they would have had to do to prove otherwise, he told
me, was touch the warm bonnet of his car.”

According to this man’s account, the money was driven to
the North in a white van and was used as a fund for the
dependants of political prisoners.

The book, which will be published in the coming weeks,
details Kelly’s hunger strike, the prison conditions he
endured and his fight to have his name cleared.

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