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October 15, 2006

North Scraps 11-Plus

News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 10/15/06 The North Scraps Academic Selection Ban
SL 10/15/06 Devolution Debate: Empey - Cusp Of A New Dawn In Politics
TS 10/15/06 Alderdice: The Pain Behind Violence
SM 10/15/06 N.Irish Deal Would Go Beyond Good Friday Pact
GT 10/15/06 Belfast Desperate For ‘Devolution’
SL 10/15/06 UDA's Tour Of Terror
SL 10/15/06 Belfast: The Racist Capital Of Europe
BN 10/15/06 Over A Thousand Jobs Could Be Lost In Cadbury’s
WT 10/15/06 Book Rev: After This: Alice McDermott

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http://www.breakingnews.ie/2006/10/15/story281083.html

The North Scraps Academic Selection Ban

15/10/2006 - 13:26:46

The 11-Plus selection process has gone for good in the
North, Peter Hain insisted today.

In the wake of Democratic Unionist claims that they had
secured the future of academic selection and grammar
schools in the province at the St Andrews talks, the
Northern Ireland Secretary said it was important that
people understood what had been agreed.


He told PA: "The 11-Plus has gone. That is the law of the
land.

"What we did undertake in an agreement with the DUP and Ian
Paisley is that we would lift the ban on academic selection
in legislation on November 20 and leave it for the parties
in the Assembly to negotiate the way ahead themselves if
the St Andrews agreement is implemented.

"However, if the agreement unravels, the parties are under
no illusion that the current government policy of ending
academic selection will be implemented.

"So let's be clear. The 11-Plus is dead and buried.

"The parties can decide the future in the event of the St
Andrews agreement being implemented or they can watch the
current plans go ahead if the agreement unravels."

The final 11-Plus exam was scheduled to take place in 2008,
with plans to replace it with a system of parental choice.

Supporters of grammar schools in the province have been
critical of the government's move to abolish the academic
selection at the age of 11, insisting it would weaken
educational standards in the province.

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, who set in
motion the plans to scrap the 11-Plus when he was the
North's Education Minister during the last period of
devolution, also challenged DUP claims that academic
selection was secure.

"As Education Minister I abolished the 11-Plus because it
gave rise to a system which enhanced educational inequality
and disadvantage," the Mid Ulster MP said.

"Let me be clear today, the 11-Plus will be abolished and
will not be coming back.

"Spin to the contrary from the DUP in the wake of St
Andrews about this issue does not alter this reality.

"If we have a fully functioning Assembly up and running
this would, of course, be an issue to discuss and debate
and that is right and proper.

"It is also right and proper that ministers retain
executive authority and ministerial power."

Mr McGuinness said many people found it ironic that the DUP
supported the 11-Plus, given that the system of academic
selection impacted most in working class unionist
communities like Belfast Shankill's area where only 1% of
the population go to grammar schools.

He said: "Sinn Féin will continue to engage in the debate
and the future direction of education here with the clear
objective of delivering a fair and effective system which
delivers for all of our children - not just a few."

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http://www.sundaylife.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=710022

Devolution Debate: Empey - Cusp Of A New Dawn In Politics

By Sir Reg Empey MLA, Leader, Ulster Unionist Party
15 October 2006

After three days of talks, we are very much back to basics:
Sinn Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of
law and order and Ian Paisley will share the joint office
of First and Deputy First Minister with Martin McGuinness
in a mandatory coalition.

My first reaction yesterday was, "What a terrible waste."

The deal that we are seeing emerging from St Andrews that
was done by Ian Paisley is essentially the same deal that
was done by my predecessor, David Trimble.

In the intervening years many of the people doing the deal
at St Andrews were creating turmoil within unionism.

What was it all for? The Belfast Agreement for slow
learners?

I can't help wonder why, if St Andrews represents the final
shape of any deal, the DUP didn't stay in the talks in
1997. They could have contributed to the Agreement then.

Now, Ian Paisley has done a massive u-turn and is going to
share power in a mandatory coalition with Martin
McGuinness.

All of this is in contravention of his election manifesto
of 2005.

But, however angry Ulster Unionists may be at the abuse we
received from the DUP for doing the heavy lifting with
republicans, we have the satisfaction of knowing that a
peaceful outcome would not have been possible without our
efforts.

We must move on now and leave Ian Paisley to explain his
contradictions to his supporters. What matters is the
future prosperity and welfare of the people.

The furore over rates, education and water charges and the
political shock waves sent out by the public on these
issues delivered a clear message to all parties: people in
Northern Ireland want their local politicians to take
charge and send the Direct Rule Ministers home with their
unpopular policies.

This is something that I have been working towards since
day one and I am delighted to say we are getting closer to
this.

Ulster Unionists exist to maintain and promote an inclusive
Union.

We realise that we need to make Northern Ireland work so
that a new generation of young people do not have to go
through the turmoil that we did. It appears that, eight or
nine years later, the DUP have finally caught up.

However, we now stand on the cusp of a new dawn in Northern
Ireland politics.

The UUP is keen to develop a new type of politics - one
that moves away from the tribal and constitutional politics
that for years has been characterised by stop-start
politics that has benefited no one.

The work that my party began more than 10 years ago has
been vindicated.

The framework of this deal at St Andrews is the framework
that we negotiated in the Agreement.

The constitutional question has been settled. The heavy
lifting undertaken by my party has borne fruit. Now is the
time to make Northern Ireland work for all of us.

What does this mean? It means an extension of my party's
'Let's get real' campaign. Tackling and dealing with the
issues that matter to everyone's daily lives: health,
education, the economy, the environment.

In short, a proper programme for government that can
deliver much needed results for the people of Northern
Ireland; to give us pride back in ourselves and our
achievements and the country we live in; to restore a
competitive and vibrant economy that will stop our young
and talented people from leaving.

It may be, that if this new politics can be developed,
support for the parties of confrontation and conflict can
be replaced by support for the parties of partnership and
co-operation.

There is little point is putting new wine in old bottles!

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http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1160825229159&call_pageid=968867495754

Alderdice: The Pain Behind Violence

Q&A A man who actually talks to terrorists on the
humiliation that drives them

Oct. 15, 2006. 01:00 AM
Andrew Chung
Toronto Star

Talks began last week to restore self-rule to Northern
Ireland after the Independent Monitoring Commission, the
body charged with, among other things, monitoring
paramilitary activity in the province, said in a major
report that the Irish Republican Army was no longer engaged
in terrorism. It was a major step to a lasting peace in
Northern Ireland, which has suffered under 30 years of
conflict between Catholic Irish Republicans and pro-British
Protestants, during which 3,600 people have been killed.

John Alderdice, a psychiatrist, former member of the
Northern Ireland assembly, and a member of the House of
Lords, is a commissioner with the IMC. A Protestant, he has
also worked tirelessly to bring the sides together over the
years. It has meant he has had to talk to, and try to
understand, terrorists — something most authorities and
governments engaged in the war on terror today seem
unwilling to do.
----

How did growing up in Northern Ireland affect you?

I was growing up when the violence started. My question
was, why are people doing this? What is it that drives
people to behave in such a self-destructive way? Those were
the reasons I went into psychology and psychoanalysis, and
politics. Understanding the psychology of individuals and
groups was a way of addressing politics in a different
fashion.
----

Did you see a lot of the fallout of the violence in your
practice?

We're beginning to see the long-term sequelae of young
people growing up in this kind of atmosphere, where normal
boundaries are put to the side and living with criminal
behaviour and what not. There's a huge amount of pathology.
----

You have some theories about the pathology of terrorism.

One thing that came out for me as I started to talk to
people in Northern Ireland, those involved in violence and
those who were sympathetic to the violence, was a strong
feeling that their community had been humiliated, and it
was historical and it had been deeply felt.

And when I went to other parts of the world — the Balkans,
Middle East, Latin America in Peru, Nepal, Sub-Saharan
Africa — I discovered this was a widespread phenomenon, the
feeling that their community was not treated with respect.
They responded in an angry and very violent way.

That's not to say that economic disadvantage and other
political issues are not of importance. But this is
something that has kept coming out to me as a common
feature of countries and communities where terrorism
emerges.

But what's the difference, say, between two people, both of
whom experience these feelings of humiliation, yet one
embraces paramilitarism and the other does not?

We don't really know the answer. It's the same as what
happens when someone is physically or sexually abused. What
turns someone into an abuser and the other into a social
worker working with the abused? It's a question for which
we don't quite know enough to be able to say with clarity.

But there are a number of things we do know. If somebody is
raised in an emotionally supportive, thoughtful, congenial
and consistent environment, they have a better chance of
becoming that social worker, but if they're in an unhappy,
emotionally deprived environment, they're more likely to be
an abuser. You can transpose that to the political
environment.
----

What is it that IRA leader Martin McGuinness said during
peace talks that struck you so deeply?

He told the story of wanting to be a motor mechanic and
asking to be taken on for a job. And the guy said there was
no job available. He said, "Keep me in mind." But the guy
explained to him that he'd never have a job there because
he's a Catholic. He became really humiliated with that.

But he also said, "Sometimes I wonder if I'd ever have got
involved in all the subsequent things if I'd gotten that
job." That was a powerful thing for those of us listening
to hear. And I wonder if that garage owner had heard that,
would he feel any sense that maybe he played a part in it?
----

But is giving someone a job enough to stop him from
becoming a terrorist?

It's not a question of giving him a job. It was the
emotional reaction to the reason for not giving him a job.

Why have you been so willing to embrace those that have
been behind so much terror in Northern Ireland?

It hasn't been at all easy. I've had to struggle both
emotionally and intellectually, my colleagues advising me
not to do it. For a long time I felt that to get moderate
people working together we had to marginalize those
responsible for the violence. But we tried it and it didn't
work. Repression was tried, and it didn't work. So should
we continue with something that wasn't working? Or take a
risk? It was very difficult, and it took a very long time,
but it made an enormous change. If we didn't try to engage
with people who supported the use of violence and involved
the use of terrorism, then you can't come to understand why
they did it.

The conventional wisdom nowadays is to never talk to, or
negotiate with, terrorists.

Well, it may be the conventional view, but it's not wisdom.
----

What about terror in the name of Islam?

Hamas and Hezbollah, they have clearly identified origins
and a political agenda they want to achieve, different from
the global jihadists. I've gone and sat down with people in
Hamas and Hezbollah, not because I agree with their
positions or their methods, but because I don't agree with
the way they've done things and want to find a way in which
disagreements can be handled in a different way. People
don't see a way out without resorting to violence. Then
they go down the democratic road, Hamas gets elected, and
then people say we don't want to do business with you.
----

What does that have to do with humiliation and disrespect?

Because if you talk to those people, they will tell you how
profoundly they feel disrespected and humiliated. Some of
it is current, some historic. It's not difficult to find
reasons why they feel this way. And again, like our
situation, there are two sides of it. There's a profound
insecurity and despair and long history of disrespect and
humiliation of the Jewish people. You've got to understand
the profound depth of feeling there. You can't just deal
with Palestinian feelings.
----

What about global jihadists, Al Qaeda?

It's more complex. But you have many young people who look
at how the West is related to the Middle East, and (they
say), "You talk about rights, women in society, but who are
your allies? They're leaders who do not conduct their
countries democratically, and we think you're keeping
people in place who support you and provide you with
strategic resources, and we're not getting the benefit."

This is not to justify terrorism; it's appalling,
reprehensible. But you can't say that you can't find a way
of understanding it if you think only a military approach
is usable. You'll find it gets worse and worse.

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http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1528572006

N.Irish Deal Would Go Beyond Good Friday Pact

LONDON (Reuters) - Proposals drawn up by the British and
Irish governments to restore self rule to Northern Ireland,
if accepted in the province, would produce a deal
potentially more significant than a 1998 peace pact, London
said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie
Ahern on Friday published a plan to break a long-standing
deadlock between the province's two main parties.

The proposals require the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
to agree to share power with its rival pro-Irish Sinn Fein
while Sinn Fein must agree to endorse local police.

Both parties must say they agree to the plan by November 10
or London and Dublin will close a suspended power-sharing
assembly in Belfast, set up under the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement.

Northern Ireland minister Peter Hain said the new deal, if
accepted, could be more inclusive than Good Friday.

"I do think this is potentially more significant for the
reason that when the Good Friday Agreement was negotiated
in 1998 the Democratic Unionists were outside the tent and
Sinn Fein were only halfway in," Hain told BBC Television.

"We now have the potential for both parties to be fully
signed up to power-sharing and republicans to join with
other parties in signing up to policing and respect for the
rule of law," he added.

The Good Friday pact largely ended three decades of
violence between majority Protestants committed to ties
with Britain and a Catholic minority in favour of a united
Ireland.

It set up a local assembly where Protestants and Roman
Catholics jointly governed the province. But the assembly
was suspended in 2002 amid allegations of spying by the
IRA, which was responsible for half the 3,600 deaths during
the conflict.

The DUP and Sinn Fein both said on Friday an agreement was
possible but they must go away and consult their grassroots
supporters.

Hain said the government stood by its commitment to close
the assembly by November 24 if the parties fail to sign up
to the deal: "It is important people remember the deadline
of November 24 remains in place. If this unravels, Stormont
is dissolved."

"I am optimistic that will not happen, and I also have no
doubt that one of the reasons that we had the agreement on
Friday was the existence of that deadline," he added.

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http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=112846&version=1&template_id=38&parent_id=20

Belfast Desperate For ‘Devolution’

Published: Sunday, 15
October, 2006, 10:24 AM Doha Time

BELFAST: After 10 years of negotiations for a permanent
peaceful political settlement, the long-suffering people of
Northern Ireland on both side of the political divide are
demanding politicians seize the chance to restore autonomy.

The people of the British-ruled province, whether from
Protestant or Catholic areas, “are very fed up,” said
Father Aidan Troy.

“Politicians don’t seem to realise the people are far ahead
of them: people have changed their attitude,” said Troy, a
Catholic priest in Ardoyne, one of the poorest and toughest
areas of Belfast and a bastion of the Irish Republican Army
(IRA).

Britain and Ireland struck agreement on Friday on a
blueprint to revive self-rule in Northern Ireland, saying
it finally brings a “way forward” for the province.

But the St Andrew’s Agreement will only lead to a power-
sharing government if it is formally endorsed within the
next month by Northern Ireland’s political parties.

If there was an epicentre to “the Troubles” in Northern
Ireland, it was doubtless the fortified roundabout joining
the Ardoyne Road on the Catholic side and Twaddell Avenue,
towards the Protestant area Woodvale.

More than 20% of the 3,600-odd victims of the conflict were
killed in this area of north Belfast, nicknamed “the fields
of death” in the 1990s.

Ardoyne and other Catholic fiefdoms supported the IRA
during the 35 years of bloodshed and until now had great
difficulty accepting the legitimacy of the Northern Irish
police and justice services.

That is one of the hoops Sinn Fein, the largest Catholic
party and the political branch of the IRA, have to jump
through by November 10.

Father Martin Magill, a Catholic priest serving the
Lenadoon and Poleglass areas of Belfast, added: “Some say
yes, it’s time to move on and accept the police, while
others say it’s still a very hard pill to swallow -
accepting the police is accepting the state.

He added: “Most people here recognise violence is long over
and politics is the only way forward. People just want the
politicians to get a deal and move on.”

On the Woodvale side of the roundabout, Protestants are
also keen to see power devolved from London to Belfast,
notably for socio-economic reasons.

Jenny Cornell, a community support co-ordinator in the
Protestant Shankill area, said that only a devolved
government could stop a local tax hike planned by London
for next year.

“Instead of blaming the other side for everything, devolve
the government, get on with it, and fight it out within
these institutions,” she said.

Belfast city centre, once paralysed by metal barricades,
now resembles the shopping district of any other Victorian
city.

And the young executives rushing to their offices often
have the same opinion as the workers back in the terraced
streets of Ardoyne and Shankill. “It’s talk, after talk,
after talk, people are bored with it,” said IT engineer
Lena Fitzpatrick, 30.

“The ordinary people are not benefiting from the status quo
because the day-to-day issues are being decided elsewhere
(in London), not in Northern Ireland.” – AFP

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http://www.sundaylife.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=710006

UDA's Tour Of Terror

By Stephen Breen
15 October 2006

Senior members of the UDA are set to visit some of the
world's most notorious war-torn regions, it emerged last
night.

The terror leaders have arranged meetings in Palestine,
Israel and Moldova to discuss the Northern Ireland peace
process and conflict resolution strategies.

The trips, which are set to take place next year, were
arranged after representatives from the Middle East and
Eastern Europe met with loyalists in Belfast last week.

The foreign delegations attended a series of meetings and
discussed a wide range of issues, including political
stability, social cohesion and an end to paramilitarism.

It was also the first time that representatives from
Palestine and Israel had discussed problems in their own
region.

The meetings were arranged as part of the European Union's
International Foundation Workshop initiative, which aims to
bring people involved in conflict together.

Frankie Gallagher, of the UDA-linked Ulster Political
Research Group, described last week's debates as "extremely
positive".

Said Mr Gallagher: "We all agreed that there was a need for
political stability in all of our respective countries.

"It was great to learn from other people who are involved
in conflicts and many similarities emerged throughout the
course of our discussions," he added.

"We were also able to work on a number of strategies
throughout the week and how we must all work to reduce
paramilitary activity.

"More meetings have been planned for the future and we
would also encourage unionist politicians to engage with
the UDA in an attempt to help them move away from
violence."

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http://www.sundaylife.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=710011

Belfast: The Racist Capital Of Europe

By John McGurk
15 October 2006

The "depressing and shocking" development of Belfast as the
"racist capital of Europe" has been exposed by the UK's
leading anti-fascism campaigners.

For Searchlight magazine has highlighted the "appalling
surge" in attacks against ethnic communities - in a 10-page
special investigation, The Silent War.

Reporter Matthew Collins has uncovered the seamy underbelly
of paramilitary-inspired violence - revealing that racist
incidents have increased by 15pc in Ulster, in the past
year alone.

According to PSNI figures, a total of 746 crimes with a
racial motivation, were committed in the province between
April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006.

Among the shocking statistics are 25 threat or conspiracy
to murder crimes, 238 woundings or assaults, 69 cases of
intimidation or harassment and 351 incidents of criminal
damage.

The worst racist hot spots in Ulster are Belfast,
Dungannon, Craigavon and Ballymena. Relatively safe towns
for migrants including Larne, Banbridge, Strabane and
Limavady.

But, possibly the most worrying aspect of such a surge in
violence against ethnic minorities is the fact that a
whopping 87pc of race crimes are not reported to the police
first.

Said Matthew Collins: "Racism is rising fast in Northern
Ireland. Racist incidents have increased by 15pc in the
past year. But it is the growing ferocity and systematic
nature of these hate crimes that is shocking.

"In the very streets that, for so long, have been divided
by sectarian and religious conflict, the province is now
earning itself a new reputation as the racist capital of
Europe."

In Searchlight's extensive expose of race hate in Ulster,
it tells a number of stories, including that of Catholic
woman Marie, who married an Asian takeaway owner.

She revealed that she has been subjected to a terrifying
threat, after covering her head, in deference to her
husband's parents.

Explained Marie: "A man walked straight up to me and yanked
at my head scarf and said 'get that off your f***ing head,
you f***ing slut, or I swear to God, I'll kill you and your
whole f***ing family' and just walked off."

Added Marie: "Sonny (her husband) tries not to see or hear
what is happening here. But it really is obvious to me. I
want to move to London. Things there could never be as bad,
as here."

And the racist attacks keep happening. Just last weekend,
two Asian men and a police officer were injured and
properties damaged in Dundonald and Lisburn.

Windows were smashed and fireworks were set off during a
series of attacks on homes in Lisburn last Sunday. The
previous night, a PSNI officer was injured, after going to
the aid of two Asian men, who had suffered facial and rib
injuries, at the hands of racist thugs in Dundonald.

Searchlight magazine editor, Nick Lowles called its
findings "depressing and shocking" and said that loyalist
paramilitaries, in particular, were "increasingly turning
to racism".

He warned: "While there have been real and tangible
improvements to the lives of ordinary people across
Northern Ireland, there can be no accommodation with racist
and fascist activity."

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http://www.breakingnews.ie/2006/10/15/story281077.html

Over A Thousand Jobs Could Be Lost In Cadbury’s

15/10/2006 - 12:52:59

Cadbury Ireland has been working on a restructuring plan
that could see job losses among the firm's 1500 workforce
in Dublin and Kerry.

The confectionary giant has run into difficulties over it's
rising cost base, including soaring energy prices and
salary and pension commitments.

A spokesperson has confirmed that they are working on a
restructuring plan to ensure the company remains
competitive.

Cadbury has operated in Ireland since 1932.

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http://washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20061014-102318-9851r

After This: Alice McDermott

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24, 279 pages

REVIEWED BY JOHN GREENYA

In an interview conducted after she had won the
National Book Award for "Charming Billy," her fourth novel,
Alice McDermott (born and raised on Long Island but for
years a resident of Bethesda) gave an interesting answer:

"Being Irish-American myself, Irish-American material
is readily at hand to me. I know Irish-American people. I
know what their homes look like. I know what they have for
dinner. I know how they turn a phrase. And so since it was
readily available, it saves me lots of research time, and I
can spend the time instead trying to develop the things
that I think are important in fiction, and that is the
inner life of the characters."

Nowhere else in her increasingly impressive body of
fiction is that concentration on the inner life of her
characters quite as true as it is in "After This," a story
of what happens to an Irish-American family in the latter
half of the 20th century.

Writing a generational panorama, even one that spans
"only" two to three generations, is not easy. But in this
saga of George and Mary Keane's Irish-Catholic family,
Alice McDermott moves the narrative along so deftly and so
economically that the passage of time seems perfectly
natural.

Instead of racing her characters through the decades as
if the years were gates on a slalom run and she was holding
a stopwatch, Ms. McDermott uses longer incidents presented
almost freeze-frame style to represent significant periods
or events.

As a result, she never needs to tell us what year it
is, and we don't feel the need because we somehow know. For
example, we attend the World's Fair in New York on a
miserably hot August evening, grousing as we inch along in
the long line to see Michelangelo's Pieta, but are never
told the year is 1964. Very effective.

It's a windy, April-is-the-cruelest-month kind of day
when we meet Mary as she comes out of church on her lunch
hour. "In church she had prayed for contentment. She was
thirty, with no husband in sight. A good job, an aging
father, a bachelor brother, a few nice friends. At least,
she had asked -- so humbly, so earnestly, so seriously --
let me be content." And then she runs into George, her
brother's friend, and to her surprise he asks her to dinner
that night.

She accepts, and then goes in to Schrafft's to have
lunch, alone, at the counter. There she has a brief
conversation with a young man who, unlike George, is
"handsome enough." But Mary already knows that something or
someone romantic is not what her future holds. "She
finished her sandwich, gave an extra quarter to the
waitress, who also wore no wedding band, and headed back
into the breach." Not the street, mind you, but the breach,
as in "once more into."

So Mary, to use the parlance of the day, "settles" for
George. They raise four children, Jacob, Michael, Annie and
Clare, each one of whom becomes the focus of later sections
of the book, especially when they approach and then reach
adulthood. But the young Keanes are not destined to be like
the high-achiever children in those insufferable
Christmastime notes that always make your own kids sound
like losers in comparison.

None of the Keane children does anything disastrous,
but their lives don't really turn out to be that much
different, or better, than those of their parents. It's
almost as if Ms. McDermott were updating -- channeling? --
James T. Farrell and his Chicago Irish-Americans of the
1920s.

I say "almost" because unlike Studs Lonigan these
characters endure, as did those of William Faulkner in an
entirely different setting, a comparison of writers that is
not, to my mind, a stretch. Alice McDermott's characters
all live. (The woman couldn't write a cardboard cutout if
she wanted to.) Jacob, a shy rather scared child, looks to
become a shy rather scared adult. His younger brother,
Michael, loses his early confidence and aggression as life
scales back his ambitions. The girls make their own
mistakes, and they too settle for less.

They all settle for less. There is also an equally
well-drawn major character that is not a family member.
Pauline works with Mary, and while they are not best
friends, and perhaps not even, Mary sometimes thinks,
friends at all, Pauline becomes part of Mary's life and
family. Many of us have had an "aunt" who is part of our
real or extended family, but when they are depicted in
fiction they seldom come to life on the page.

Pauline comes very definitely to life, and we see her
importance to the family and the family's importance to
her. But there's not a dab of sentimentality in the
portrait, so well and carefully is she wrought. When
Pauline is recuperating from an accident, the Keanes bring
her to live with them. As kind as the act is, it doesn't
suddenly change Pauline's scratchy personality.

"As the car pulled away, Pauline suddenly sat up,
something brief and childlike in her eyes, a spark of fear
or confusion. And then, haltingly, she sat back again. She
turned to Mary. 'That raincoat doesn't suit you,' she said.
'You're not good in black.'

"Mary only smiled.

"'You've lost weight, too,' Pauline said. It wasn't a
compliment."

Please don't let my description of the book cause you
to think this is a depressing novel. It is anything but
depressing. The details of this family's life may seem
excessively quotidian at times, but the cumulative effect
is wonderfully convincing. This is a real family, these are
real people, this is real life.

Tour de force is not too strong a word for what Ms.
McDermott has accomplished. A first-rate novelist at the
top of her game is something to behold, a thing of beauty
and a joy forever as the poet said. And Alice McDermott is
most definitely at the top of her game. "After This," her
fifth novel since her startling debut with "A Bigamist's
Daughter" in 1982, is so powerful, so controlled, and so
evocative of real human emotion that is hard to think of a
better novel that came out this year.

John Greenya is a Washington writer.

----
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BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS

Terrorist School Teacher Arrested, as reported first onCNN

NEW YORK- A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy
International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of mathinstruction.

"Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzalez said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, "There are 3 sides to every triangle."

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God
had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have
given us more fingers and toes."


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