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)

October 30, 2006

SF Urged To Join Police Board

News About Ireland & The Irish

GU 10/30/06 Sinn Féin Urged To Join Police Board
IT 10/31/06 Police Devolution Is Unlikely In Conceivable Future - DUP
BB 10/30/06 NI Parties To Seek Peace Funding
IT 10/31/06 Opin: 10 Yrs On TG4 Has Put Irish Back Into Cultural Life
BB 10/30/06 Digging For Northern Ireland's Gold
IT 10/31/06 Gore Is Enlisted To Lobby US On Climate Change
IT 10/31/06 Death Of Athlete Casts Shadow Over Marathon

(Poster’s Note: Check out the following: Folks on the Hill:


Sinn Féin Urged To Join Police Board

Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Monday October 30, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Sinn Féin's reluctance to support the police is creating a
political "vacuum" in which dissident republicans can
operate unchallenged, the chairman of Northern Ireland's
policing board has warned.

In an interview with the Guardian, Sir Desmond Rea offered
to address a forthcoming conference called by Sinn Féin in
order to decide whether the republican movement will
abandon decades of defiance and support the police and the
court service.

Northern Ireland now has the best regulatory system in the
UK for holding officers - and even MI5 officials - to
account, the policing board chairman claimed.

"I have written to all the political parties to say we are
available to brief them on the workings of the board.

"The policing problem is easy: it's important that every
part of this community is policed and it's important we
draw recruits from every part of this community," Sir
Desmond said.

"Once trained they [must be able to] go back home and visit
their parents without fear.

"To the extent that Sinn Féin is not on [the policing]
board it leaves a vacuum in which [republican] dissidents
can play their game and be a threat to police officers."

A decision by Sinn Féin to sign up to policing would be
"the last piece in the jigsaw" and symbolise the advent of
a healthy civic society, Sir Desmond said.

"It [would] send a message to the republican community that
policing is there and that it's recognised."

Sinn Féin is expected to call a special Ard Fheis, or party
conference, before Christmas to discuss the issue.

Senior figures, such as Gerry Adams, the party's president,
and Gerry Kelly, its justice spokesman, have signalled
their willingness to support the police in the context of
an overall political settlement, involving power-sharing
with unionists in a devolved assembly. There are signs of
resistance, however, among hardline republicans.

Asked whether he would address a Sinn Féin conference, Sir
Desmond said: "If necessary I will go to the Ard Fheis. I
am more than happy to describe to them how this board
fulfils [its function of making] the ... chief constable
accountable for the delivery of effective policing.

"[Sinn Féin] are welcome on this board. They will be
treated in exactly the same way as each and every other
member. They will have to win the arguments in respect of
whatever issues [they take up]."

Under the current balance of power in Northern Ireland, the
Democratic Unionist party has four seats on the board and
the other main political parties - including Sinn Féin if
they took up their allotted seats - two each. Most of the
board's meetings are held in open public session.

Since November 2001, when the police force ceased being the
Royal Ulster Constabulary and was restructured as the
Police Force of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the number of
Catholics in its ranks has risen from less than nine
percent to 20 per cent.

The number of female officers has also doubled from 10 to
20 per cent of the force. Among new recruits, a significant
number come from the Irish Republic.

District policing boards, with locally representative
members who liaise with police commanders, have been
established across Northern Ireland.

Only in one DPP, in the west of the province, will a
nationalist not take a seat because of fear of intimidation
by dissident republicans.

On MI5 - which is due to take over responsibility for
national security affairs in Northern Ireland next year, in
line with the division of powers elsewhere in the UK - Sir
Desmond said his board had been briefed by the former head
of MI5, Sir Stephen Lander.

The board currently holds private sessions three or four
times a year to hold discussions with the assistant chief
constable responsible for intelligence.

"Two of these each year will include briefings from the
local head of MI5," he added.

"So there's a format for a far greater degree of
accountability than, I believe, exists anywhere else in the

"We are seeking to push the limits of accountability and
it's better that Sinn Féin is on board to assist in that."

There is such political sensitivity about the arrival of
MI5 in the province - it will occupy a building within the
precincts of Palace Barracks, near Holywood, east of
Belfast - that this month's St Andrews agreement has a
three and half page annexe on the security service.

The document promises "integrated working arrangements
[PSNI officers working alongside MI5 officials], the first
such approach in the UK".

The expectation that MI5 will focus chiefly on dissident
republican paramilitaries and leave the monitoring of
loyalist groups to the PSNI - because the loyalists are not
deemed to constitute a threat to the state - has angered
the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour party.

Asked about broader concerns, Sir Desmond said he was
worried about Northern Ireland's "pre-occupation with the

He added: "We are so concerned about the past that our
ability to effectively police [now] and to effectively
embrace the future is inhibited.

"The government should be setting up some sort of body to
relate to the community as a whole in every aspect as to
how we deal with the past, looking at the options... One
[possibility] is to write it off."


Police Devolution Is 'Unlikely In Conceivable Future' - DUP

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The DUP has warned Sinn Féin there is little immediate
prospect of the devolution of policing and justice powers
to any restored Stormont Executive.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds accused Sinn Féin of foot-
dragging on support for the police. He insisted there could
be no devolution "until there is confidence in the unionist
community" and forecast that such confidence would not
emerge for "a very, very long time".

"It will take a political lifetime before attitudes on this
issue will change," he said. "The DUP has secured a double
safeguard in that devolution of policing and justice will
only take place if a majority of unionists in an Assembly
were to vote for it and a unionist first minister were to
propose it. Both these propositions are unlikely to happen
in the conceivable future, certainly under DUP control."

He added: "The British government and Sinn Féin need
therefore to be honest with people and not to pretend that
republicans will get their hands on such powers. They will

His Lagan Valley colleague, Jeffrey Donaldson, also
underscored the need for unionist consent to the
establishment of a justice department at Stormont.

"We have ensured that there will be no devolution of
policing and justice powers until such time as there is
confidence in the unionist community," he said.

"Such confidence is unlikely to be achieved for the
foreseeable future and the DUP will exercise its veto to
make sure that there will be no devolution of these powers
until there is sufficient unionist community confidence."

However, Mr Donaldson said his party's consultation on the
St Andrews Agreement with the wider unionist electorate
would continue despite pressure from the governments to
declare by November 10th if they will support the
restoration of devolution.

"There is more to do," he said. "There will be no rush to
judgment in the coming days. We are pledged to consult
widely and I would encourage unionists . . . to participate
in our consultation process."

The party has also publicly questioned the possibility of a
papal visit to Northern Ireland next year. East Derry MP
Gregory Campbell said such a visit would be done "at the
wrong time and for the wrong reasons".

Party delegations will meet at Stormont later today as
efforts continue to arrive at a joint position in advance
of talks tomorrow with chancellor Gordon Brown.

© The Irish Times


NI Parties To Seek Peace Funding

Northern Ireland's political parties are preparing to ask
the chancellor for a peace dividend worth up to £5bn, the
BBC has learned.

The parties have spent the day drawing up a strategy in
advance of their meeting on Wednesday with Gordon Brown.

An all-party delegation will travel to Downing Street for
round-table discussions with the chancellor.

It is understood they will ask for extra funding, over and
above the NI block, of £1bn a year over five years.

The parties will call for huge investment in infrastructure
and it is expected they will also ask for a delay in the
introduction of water charges, as well as a reduction in
corporation tax for companies.

The parties are due to meet Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain for further talks on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the DUP's Nigel Dodds has warned republicans
they "will not get their hands on policing and justice
powers for years".

In a statement, the North Belfast MP said he did not
foresee the confidence for devolved policing and justice
being developed "for a very long time".

He predicted it would be a "political lifetime" before the
situation would change and added that Sinn Fein "should not
pretend otherwise".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/30 17:52:26 GMT


Opin: 10 Yrs On TG4 Has Put Irish Back Into Cultural Life

TG4 thrives in a multicultural Ireland because respect for
the rights of minorities has finally taken root, writes
Farrel Corcoran

It was a magical Halloween night in Connemara 10 years ago,
fireworks and bonfires lighting up the rocky terrain, the
sound of massed Macnas drumming reverberating around the
coastal lakes, the whole ritual unashamedly evoking the old
Celtic festival of Samhain.

To all of us involved in the launch of TnaG, it was
unbelievable that after so many years of bitter argument
about Irish and its place in radio and television, we were
now toasting a major new cultural initiative.

It was never going to be easy, not just because of severe
resource limitations but because of the hostile ideological
environment, policed by a small number of newspaper pundits
trying to shout down the message from opinion polls showing
broad support for public funding of broadcasting in Irish.
It was clear by the 1980s that the old polarised ways in
which we thought about Irish were changing. Insistence on a
highly prescriptive sense of Irish identity, based on
claustrophobic policies that held sway since Independence,
began to wane, as did its opposite, the post-colonial shame
that associated the Irish language with backwardness.
Deepening contact with the EEC fostered the novel idea that
linguistic minorities in all parts of Europe should have a
"right to communicate". This new self-confidence was put to
the test in the campaigns of the 1980s to establish a
Gaeltacht television service, a reaction to the arrival of
S4C in Wales and to the perceived marginalisation of Irish
language programming in RTÉ, where commercial pressure to
maximise audience size was getting intense. Those campaigns
were a direct riposte to what Gaeltacht activists rightly
saw as political dithering and posturing in Dublin.

What has changed in the 10 years since the launch of TG4
and how do we evaluate its current role in Irish society?

For media critics working totally within a market ideology,
with no interest in TG4's actual output, the only question
has been its audience share. In fact, TG4 has managed to
increase its audience each year, to the point where its
share is now five times greater than when it started.

In the digital and broadband era, where the audience for
indigenous Irish channels has shrunk to just about half of
the audience for all television viewed in the country due
to intense competition from abroad, this is a solid

TG4's share is now slightly less than BBC2 or Channel 4,
but larger than Sky One, Sky News, Nickleodeon or MTV, all
of which have a significant presence in Ireland.

Its flagship children's programme, Cúla 4, regularly
attracts 20 per cent of the child audience. Given the long-
standing argument that Irish-speaking children in
particular need significant daily contact with their own
language on television, this is a significant statistic.

TG4 clearly has repositioned the Irish language in the
cultural life of the country, where there are now well over
100 languages spoken in the schools and streets.

There are however important funding questions to be asked.
TG4 gets a Government grant of €28 million and generates a
further €4 million from advertising. The Welsh channel S4C
is the nearest comparator in terms of mission and size of
core audience, but by contrast, it receives a government
grant of €135 million and earns a further €13 million
commercially. RTÉ provides TG4 with 365 hours of "free"
programming a year, while the BBC provides more than 550
hours to S4C.

It is doubtful if the Government will ever significantly
increase its funding, so rather than wait for the
impossible, TG4 creates cost-effective schedules that are
clever blends of original production in Irish, acquired
content dubbed into Irish, archival material and English
language television bought on the global market, some of it
aimed at niche audience interest.

TG4 is admired, even by its detractors, not just for its
success in cornering awards at international film and
television festivals, but more importantly, for the canny
way it manages to provide a wide range of programming, from
stimulating children's entertainment, to the long-running
soap Ros na Rún, to the international televisual
gallivanting of the intrepid Hector Ó hEochagáin.

Its impact on employment in the independent production
sector, especially around Galway, is significant, since TG4
is a publisher-broadcaster (like S4C or Channel 4) that
commissions most of its programming. It competes with
another new channel, Setanta, for what might now be called
niche sports rights, including major tennis and cycling

Of particular relevance to anyone concerned with the
improvement of political communication is TG4's live
coverage of Dáil sessions and Oireachtas committee
hearings, as well as its retransmission of Euronews, the
European public broadcasting news service. In an important
development negotiated in the Belfast Agreement, the public
sphere nourished by TG4 now includes most of Northern

So, who is complaining? Well, mostly TV3 executives, who
want TG4 to become a full-time Irish language station and
who insist that it should be funded totally from the
licence fee. This would leave better advertising pickings
for private television companies, including the many
foreign television channels now drawing income from the
limited pool of Irish advertising.

It would suit TV3 very nicely if both TG4 and RTÉ were to
survive on licence fee revenue frozen at its present level.
It remains to be seen how this argument will be regarded by
the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the regulator
proposed in the Government's new Broadcasting Bill, which
for the first time will amalgamate the regulation of both
public and private broadcasting under one roof.

It is easy to get frustrated with the amount of Irish
language material on TG4. Is seven hours a day enough, or
too much, in a schedule that stretches up to 19 hours?

There are good reasons to criticise this ratio, especially
if you want more Irish programming for your family, or if
you feel the channel is oriented too much (or too little)
towards specifically Gaeltacht (as opposed to all-Ireland)
interests, or if you think TV3 would provide as much
content made in Ireland as TG4, if only it didn't have to
compete with those people in Connemara.

For those who seriously want to increase the amount of
Irish language programming, it is primarily a decision for
government, not for the thrifty TG4 staff who have produced
so much already with a tiny budget.

Public appreciation of what TG4 is adding to the mix of
television in Ireland is much more positive now than it was
10 years ago. TG4 thrives in a multicultural Ireland
because the democratic value of respect for the rights of
minorities has finally taken root.

We recognise this by guaranteeing access to television for
those who speak Irish in their daily lives - and for quite
a few more of us who also enjoy what TG4 is adding to the
current globalised television landscape. The staff of TG4
can proudly raise the champagne glasses again in Connemara
this Halloween, no doubt toasting the wisdom of the
strategy that has guided them over the last decade: An fear
nach bhfuil láidir, ní foáir do bheith glic.

Farrel Corcoran is professor of communications in Dublin
City University and a former chairman of RTÉ.

© The Irish Times


Digging For Northern Ireland's Gold

By Clare Matheson
Business reporter, BBC News, Northern Ireland

Nestled in the green hills near Omagh in Northern Ireland
is a vast mudpit that mining firm Galantas hope will soon -
literally - become a goldmine.

The temporary buildings serving as the firm's headquarters
are buzzing with staff and the noise of digging.

Just minutes away, along a path only traversable by a 4x4
offroader, is a vein of ore the group hopes will be
producing as much as 30,000 ounces of gold a year.

As vice president of exploration Moe Lavigne tells the
story of the group's beginnings, it seems as though the
firm has had the luck of the Irish in getting off the

Originally set up "for tax purposes" in the late 1980s by
mining giant Rio Tinto, the site was later acquired by Jack
Gunter who had been planning to retire from the mining

"Rio Tinto were here as they used to have a zinc mine in
Swansea, which had stopped production and so their tax
treatment was going to change as it was a UK company with
no UK mine," says Mr Lavigne.

"So they found this site, and started a four-year
exploration, including tests and so on.

"Then the tax laws changed and Rio decided it no longer
wanted the site."

'Piecemeal' funding

But while Jack got a lucky break there were still problems
setting up the business, with money being one of the key

"The reason it got off the ground is Robert Phelps
underwrote it with £1m of his own money," Mr Lavigne adds.

Robert Phelps had already bought out the Gwynfynydd gold
mine in Wales forming Welsh Gold.

Although the site stopped production in 1998, Mr Phelps
recently said the mine was still bringing in a "modest
profit" each year, mainly through the sale of premium
priced "pure Welsh gold jewellery".

We get a very large premium on protecting our Irishness

Moe Lavigne, Galantas

The tie-up was very beneficial as Mr Phelps could bring his
expertise of managing small mines and marketing niche
jewellery to Galantas.

But financing has admittedly been a "piecemeal" process so

The group has funded itself through stock issues - it is
worth around 25m Canadian dollars (£11.7m; $22.3m) on the
Toronto stock exchange and is also listed on the UK's
Alternative Investment Market.

But, the Canadian float came just months before the Bre-X
scandal, which turned prospective investors away in droves
and led to a collapse in world gold prices.

Bre-X had claimed to have found the world's biggest gold
deposit in Indonesia - a claim which later turned out to be
false. Bre-X had found not an ounce of gold.

Lucky break

Locals have also raised fears about environmental damage.
There are strong fears about the use of cyanide to "leech"
gold from rock during the refining process, with many
critics complaining that the mine's surroundings would

Under the strict terms of its licence Galantas has promised
to keep hold of the peat it has removed and will replace it
when the company ends its operations there.


1985-1990 - Rio Tinto explores area in Omagh and discovers
1990 - Jack Gunter forms Omagh Minerals and buys mining
rights and licences to 189sq km area from Rio Tinto
1996 - Company renamed Galantas Gold and listed in Toronto
stock exchange
1997 - Robert Phelps takes majority stake in firm after
pumping £1m into business
2000 - Test gold recovered from samples sent to South
Africa goes on sale
2002 -Full planning permission, including more than 30
conditions, given for site.
2006 - Lists on AIM index in London

A factor that worked in the firm's favour was the fact that
the gold deposit was of such a high grade that explosives
would not have to be used to extract it - a key
consideration in the 1990s when the IRA was still in

Instead of detonating the seams, the gold rock could simply
be dug out of the ground.

So, after a "lengthy and elaborate" planning process, Mr
Gunter's firm finally got the full go-ahead to develop the
site in 2002. Now after further exploration, examination
and preparation production is set to begin soon.

Rich seam

Out on the open-cast site, the JCBs and tractors are
uncovering the first vein to be exploited.

Erupting from the muddy hole, like the back of a whale, is
the Kearney seam, littered with blue and red markings.

"It's a very rich seam," Mr Lavigne says. "We'll generate
about two to three ounces of gold per tonne of rock - each
tonne will be worth about £200, and will cost £75 to
process. So we'll make a profit of £125 per tonne."

He expects the mine to go into full production by the end
of the year.

By then the processing hangar will be in operation,
grinding and sifting the Kearney rock for pyrite (fool's
gold) and gold itself.

But Galantas will not just be flogging its gold to the
world market. The leftover rock can be sold on to building
and construction firms as aggregate, and there's even
silver and lead in the rock.

Dual markets

Galantas - which is Gaelic for elegant thing - is also
selling high-end jewellery.

Its "free gold", the stuff that is shaken out on site at
its processing plant, will be used to make 18 carat and 20
carat exclusive trinkets. The group already has seven
stores around Ireland and markets on the internet.

"We get a very large premium on protecting our Irishness,"
says Mr Lavigne.

"We've already sold £300,000 of jewellery from the test
rock we sent to South Africa - 85% of those sales were
wedding bands.

"And there's a big market out there. Not just Ireland, but
a huge market on the eastern seaboard of the USA."

Compared with many of the mining giants, Galantas could be
considered a small operation. But they have big hopes for
the future.

"There's a very good chance this mine will be operating in
perpetuity, making between £5m and £8m profit per year on
35,000 ounces of gold," says Mr Lavigne.

"Mining companies always want to be bigger and our future
is in going underground," he explains. "We've identified a
possible 15 veins on the site."

Apart from this glittering endorsement, when mining finally
does begin at the site, Galantas will have the distinction
of being the only working goldmine in the UK.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/30 23:59:59 GMT


Gore Is Enlisted To Lobby US On Climate Change

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

The British government has hired former US vice president
Al Gore as a lobbyist to convince the American public that
action must be taken urgently to combat the "disastrous"
threat of global warming.

The unusual appointment was announced yesterday following
the publication in London of a major review by the
government's chief economist warning of the dire
consequences of failing to deal with climate change.

Sir Nicholas Stern's review starkly warned that the world
was entering "dangerous territory" unless urgent action is
taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the
rise in global temperatures.

British prime minister Tony Blair described it as the most
important report on the future to be published by the
government during his term of office; if its findings were
not heeded, the result would be "disastrous".

Scientific evidence was "overwhelming", he said. "This
disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction
future many years ahead, but in our lifetime. Unless we act
now . . . these consequences, disastrous as they are, will
be irreversible."

The review was published just a week before the latest
round of UN talks on climate change starts in Nairobi,
Kenya and on the same day that the UN secretariat in Bonn
released data showing an upward trend in emissions between
2000 and 2004.

The weighty review provides ammunition for Mr Blair's drive
to persuade the US, as well as fast-growing developing
countries such as China and India, to sign up to a new
global framework to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Chancellor Gordon Brown pledged that Britain would lead a
global effort to tackle climate change. Mr Gore - whose
film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, has been
drawing large audiences - worldwide, will be part of this.

The Bush administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol on
Climate Change in 2003, arguing that it would damage the US
economy. But Sir Nicholas warned that failing to tackle it
will hit the global economy far harder than taking action.

As his review says, climate change risks raising average
temperatures by more than 5 degrees Celsius. "This rise
would be very dangerous indeed; it is equivalent to the
change in average temperatures from the last Ice Age to

No country would escape. "The poorest countries and
populations will suffer earliest and most, even though they
have contributed least to the causes of climate change".
But large coastal cities such as London, New York and Tokyo
are also threatened.

"Hundreds of millions of people could suffer hunger, water
shortages and coastal flooding as the world warms," the
review says.

Sir Nicholas warns that the cost of climate change will be
equivalent to losing at least 5 per cent and possibly as
much as 20 per cent of global GDP each year.

British environment secretary David Miliband confirmed that
a Climate Change Bill was being drafted to enshrine in law
the British government's long-term target of cutting
greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent between now and
2050. A range of "green taxes" is also being considered,
including a new tax on aviation fuel as well as higher
levies on the most polluting cars, such as SUVs (sports
utility vehicles) in an effort to change people's personal

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said the
review would have "a very significant impact in moving
economic and business thinking towards the view that the
sooner we tackle the problem the better".

Green Party finance spokesman Dan Boyle TD said the review
confirmed his party's view that the Government needed to
take a radically different approach "to prevent ourselves
from sleepwalking into an uncertain future".

But Dr Richard Tol, senior research officer at the ESRI,
said the report's assumption that people would "never get
used to higher temperatures, changed rainfall patterns, or
higher sea levels" was a "rather dim view of human

© The Irish Times


Death Of Athlete Casts Shadow Over Marathon

Christine Newman

The Dublin City Marathon, with more than 10,000
competitors, was overshadowed yesterday by the death of a
man on the course.

The man, an Irishman in his 40s, collapsed at about midday,
three hours into the race. He became unwell at Orwell Road,
Rathgar, in the Terenure section of the route at about the
15- to 16-mile mark.

A nurse and doctor in the crowd and St John's Ambulance
went to his aid and emergency services were called but the
man was dead on arrival at hospital.

The man's family were contacted and they went to the
hospital. Race director Jim Aughney also went immediately
to the hospital.

It is the first time there has been a fatality at the
Dublin marathon since the 1980s.

The race itself the the winner was Russian Aleksey Sokolov,
breaking the course record. The women's race was won by
fellow Russian Alina Ivanova, and Welshman Richie Powell
won the wheelchair race.

The competitors from 66 countries and from all walks of
life and ages followed over the next few hours.

Most were running for charities and an estimated €10
million was collected in sponsorship.

The runners praised the crowds all along the route, who
kept up continual encouragement, cheering and applauding
and even gave them drinks and lollipops.

Veteran marathon runners said the weather was ideal and was
the best in years as the rain held off in mild conditions.

© The Irish Times

To Subscribe to Irish Aires Google News List, click Here.
To Unsub from Irish Aires Google News List, click Here
For options visit:

Or join our Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

To October Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?