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October 18, 2006

Sinn Fein to Debate PSNI at Ard Comhairle

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 10/18/06 Sinn Fein Not Ready For PSNI Move
BT 10/18/06 Stormont Task Force To Tackle Oath Row
NL 10/18/06 Empey Says DUP Are Learning The Hard Way
IN 10/18/06 DUP Man (Allister) Who Dared To Challenge Paisley
DT 10/18/06 Child's DNA And Samples Destroyed
BT 10/18/06 A Chink Of Light In The Very Secret World Of MI5
IN 10/18/06 Opin: Parties Must Focus On Goals
BT 10/18/06 Opin: Parties Must Focus On The Big Picture
BT 10/18/06 Opin: Is St Andrews A Bumpy Road Or Cul De Sac?
IT 10/18/06 New US Ambassador Presents His Credentials
BT 10/18/06 Ulster Pupil Enjoys Sudoku Success
IN 10/18/06 Village’s Normalisation Prompts Heritage Fears
RH 10/18/06 Irish Americans Told, ‘County Roscommon Needs You’


Sinn Fein Not Ready For PSNI Move

Sinn Fein is still debating whether to back the PSNI but is
not ready to vote on it, its policing spokesman says.

Gerry Kelly was speaking after a meeting to be attended by
both Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams was postponed.

"We wanted to get to the point where we could put a
proposition to an Ard Comhairle - we have not reached

The DUP wants a pledge of support for policing in place
before Mr Paisley and SF's Martin McGuinness can become
shadow first and deputy first minister.

Mr Kelly told the BBC's Spotlight programme that
discussions were still ongoing.

"This is a very fundamental issue, it always has been for
republicans, and we intend to get it right," he added.

Sinn Fein has confirmed that its Ard Chomhairle or party
executive will be briefed on the St Andrews Agreement on
Thursday in Dublin. The executive is the body which is
expected to respond to the government by 10 November.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the postponement
of Tuesday's Programme for Government meeting at Stormont
was merely "a glitch".

Mr Hain put off the meeting after the DUP raised objections
over the pledge of office and threatened to boycott the

Mr Paisley and SF's Martin McGuinness are due to become
shadow first and deputy first ministers on 24 November.

The DUP insist support for policing and law and order is in
place before then.

'Full consultation'

Speaking after the postponement, Mr Paisley said the DUP's
assembly members had "passed a unanimous vote in the
leadership of this party".

"We have a document issued by the two governments. It is
not our document. It is their document," he said.

"We are going to take time to consider it and give to the
people of Northern Ireland our findings on the matter and
also we are going to have a full consultation with the

Last week's St Andrews Agreement stated that before the
government legislated on the pledge of office, "it will
consider the outcome of further Preparation for Government
Committee discussions on policing and the rule of law".

Gerry Adams said a lot of people would be disappointed by
the DUP's decision but that "it isn't the end of the

'Panic politics'

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "Undue problems are being
created, or generated, in and around the questions about
pledge of office and what will happen on the 24 November."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said it was a "very
fluid situation" amid what he described as "panic

The Northern Ireland parties have been given until 10
November to respond to what the governments are calling the
St Andrews Agreement.

It was published after intensive three-day talks between
the parties at St Andrews in Scotland.

If all goes to plan, a first and deputy first minister will
be nominated on 24 November and the devolved institutions
will be up and running by 26 March.

Published: 2006/10/18 06:38:37 GMT


Stormont Task Force To Tackle Oath Row

By Noel McAdam
18 October 2006

Stormont's all-party 'task force' is to meet later this
week to attempt to resolve the pledge of office row which
thwarted Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams' first face-to-face

With officials working behind the scenes on a possible form
of words which could allow Mr Paisley and Martin McGuinness
to be nominated as 'designated' First and Deputy First
Ministers next month, the Government was also coming under
pressure to disclose any 'side-deals' with the parties
reached at the St Andrews talks.

The Preparation for Government committee - different from
the Programme for Government committee at which Mr Paisley
and Mr Adams had been due to take part - was today writing
to Secretary of State Peter Hain to demand full publication
of any private correspondence at last week's negotiations.

Alliance party leader David Ford, who proposed the motion,
said: "It is clear from Mr Hain's directions to the
Preparation for Government committee that he will listen to
its views depending on the strength of votes. Well, this
one was supported unanimously.

"We need an end to this complete nonsense of people
claiming to have reached their own agreements.

"We need open negotiations so everyone knows where they

The 14-strong preparation group, co-chaired by the DUP and
Sinn Fein, is to meet again on Friday by which time all the
parties are expected to have submitted proposals for
tackling the ministerial oath issue.

But if it cannot be resolved then, less than a week after
the British and Irish Governments published the St Andrews
blueprint, Prime Minister Tony Blair may have to become
directly involved again.

Mr Hain was forced to scrap the hugely-symbolic first
meeting of the Programme for Government committee yesterday
after Mr Paisley refused to attend.

The DUP leader said he had a personal, written assurance
that both he and Mr McGuinness would be required to take an
oath of office when they are set to be nominated on
November 24 - the deadline for the current Assembly.

"None of these promises are verbal. They are written down.
They know if they don't keep them (they) will be taken out
and pushed down their throats," Mr Paisley said.

Sinn Fein, meanwhile, made clear it was not yet in a
position to put a recommendation to its executive to call a
special ard fheis on policing, which would not be possible
by November 24.

Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said: "This is a very
fundamental issue - it always has been for republicans -
and we intend to get it right."


Empey Says DUP Are Learning The Hard Way

THE DUP is learning the lesson of how difficult it is to
negotiate with the Government, after years of attacking the
UUP on the issue, Sir Reg Empey said last night.

As the St Andrews Agreement timetable for devolution
stuttered at the first hurdle, because the DUP believed the
Government was preparing to renege on a promise to
explicitly include support for the police in a new
Ministerial Pledge of Office, the Ulster Unionist leader
warned against double-dealing by Downing Street.

He said: "We were told the great negotiators in the DUP
would have everything nailed down and it's perfectly
obvious that a fundamental issue was not nailed down.

"One of the reasons this is happening is because they are
not engaging with republicans.

"They are using the NIO as the message boys and they are
getting different messages coming at different times."

The DUP denied being caught out and said it had written
promises that policing support would be in the pledge.

In the past, the UUP had been trumped by verbal assurances
from the Government which did not always materialise.
Surveying the scene, Sir Reg also said: "Panic politics has
set in. Most people will be absolutely astonished at what
has happened in 72 hours.

"It is perfectly obvious part of the side deal has started
to unravel."

He said the situation was very fluid.

"We had a nervous groom, a reluctant bride and a marriage
of convenience – but we don't have a civil arrangement," he

He also told the News Letter, however, that the problem of
the pledge may not be insurmountable.

He suggested the interim pledge used to swear in David
Trimble and Seamus Mallon as First and Deputy First
Minister may still be of use, with a little tinkering.

It binds the office bearers, in the Executive, to abide by
peaceful and democratic means.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said events yesterday were

"A rather large chasm has developed between the DUP and
Sinn Fein," he added.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said any problems were
"manufactured" and people needed to avoid getting in a

"With the DUP boycott of this first meeting, it sends out
confusing signals and I hope Dr Paisley will think better
of it," he said.

18 October 2006


DUP Man Who Dared To Challenge Paisley

By Bimpe Fatogun

A BARRISTER of some renown, Jim Allister is known for
arguing his case strenuously both inside and outside the

His return to frontline politics two years ago startled
many, not least because his withdrawal from public life
reportedly followed a disagreement between party leader Ian
Paisley over a unionist voting pact.

Unlike the troubled recent history of the Ulster Unionist
Party, the DUP is remarkable for its public unity and
continuing influence exerted by Mr Paisley more than 30
years after he founded the party which he has led
unchallenged ever since.

Mr Allister is known for being on the right wing of the
party which is itself known for taking a strong line on
religion and security matters.

Born in Crossgar, Co Down, in 1953 into a farming family,
he went to school at Regent House, Newtownards, and Queen’s
University Belfast where he studied law.

He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1976.

However, Mr Allister left private practice to become Mr
Paisley’s personal assistant at the European Parliament
between 1980 and 1982.

After that he served in the assembly of the 1980s, serving
as chief whip before returning to concentrate on his legal
career in 1986.

During his time in the assembly he served as the vice-
chairman of the scrutiny committee of Department of Finance
and Personnel.

He was also a member of Newtownabbey Borough Council
between 1985 and 1987.

Mr Allister stood unsuccessfully as a DUP candidate for
East Antrim in Westminster elections.

His abandonment of politics is said to have followed a
reported disagreement with his party leader over a unionist
voting pact.

During his time away from the spotlight he returned to the
Bar to concentrate on his legal career, building up his
practice to the point in 2001 when he took silk and became
a QC. He has enjoyed a successful career, specialising in
criminal law.

His surprise selection as the DUP’s candidate to succeed Mr
Paisley in June 2004 saw him top the poll with 32 per cent
of the vote, ahead of Sinn Fein’s Bairbre de Brun (26.3 per

Mr Allister and his wife Ruth have a daughter, Karen, and
two sons, Graeme and Philip and now live near Ballymena in
Co Antrim.


Child's DNA And Samples Destroyed

THE PARENTS of a child whose DNA, fingerprints and details
were taken by police told the 'Journal' yesterday that all
details kept on their 11-years-old daughter have now been

The child's father, Patrick Millar said yesterday: "It was
all destroyed on Friday and we have it in writing that it
is all gone, even the DNA samples. We're delighted that
it's all over."

Mr. Millar claims he was told that this incident was
actually the first time that DNA kept on police files had
been destroyed in Northern Ireland.

The Millars campaigned for their daughter's samples to be
destroyed after she was caught writing on the City Walls in
August with two 14-years-old friends.

Mr. Millar was able to shred the documents containing his
daughter's details on Friday past following a recent
meeting with SDLP leader Mark Durkan and PSNI Foyle
District Commander, Richard Russell, who agreed to destroy
everything relating to their child.

Mr. Millar went on: "We shouldn't forget that there are
still two other children of only 14-years-of-age who still
have details kept on file by police for writing on a wall,
and they should also be calling for these details to be
destroyed. The bigger an issue this becomes, the better."

"What concerns me most is that these laws are meant to
target re-offenders or serious offenders, and yet they use
this method to criminalise children as young as 11-years-
old. My daughter had to hold up a card which said 'criminal
damage', and that one photograph told the whole story of
how a child could be treated over something so trivial."

Since highlighting their daughter's situation, it later
emerged from the Children's Commissioner for Northern
Ireland that similar details on more than 3,000 children
and young people are kept on file in the North.

Having set a precedent for police sampling of children in
future, Mr. Millar said: "We hope that others who find
themselves in a similar situation will have the courage to
speak up. We hope they will go to their MPs and will push
to have DNA and fingerprints of their children destroyed,
just as we have done."

Mr. Millar expressed the family's gratitude for the support
they have received over the matter: "My wife and I would
like to thank Paul Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre and
Mark Durkan's representative for being there with us on
Friday. We'd also like to thank Sinn F?in fit its help in
resolving the matter,

"We would also like to thank Supt. Richard Russell for
looking into this case and realising it was a bit over the
top for such a minor offence. Now, there is a real
possibility that this won't happen to anyone else," he

SDLP Leader and Foyle MP, Mark Durkan said yesterday that
the child's details "should never have been taken in the
first instance" and that he hopes the youngster can now put
this ordeal behind her.

He went on: "This has brought great relief for the Millar
family and I want to commend the Millars for the very
effective manner in which they put their points as parents
across to the District Commander."

Mr. Durkan said the incident: "Highlighted an issue of
wider concern around the policy of retention of DNA and
fingerprint records of children who have committed no
crime. I have already tabled a Parliamentary Question
seeking the Secretary of State's views on this deeply
flawed policy. I am also supporting the call by the
Commissioner for Children and Young People for a review of
this clearly flawed policy. I have written to the Chief
Constable calling for a full review of policy and

18 October 2006


A Chink Of Light In The Very Secret World Of MI5

Omagh email highlighted lack of effectiveness in
intelligence sharing

By Chris Thornton
18 October 2006

A towering truck driver descended from Mohawk indians
provided the most difficult challenge to the Government's
Ulster plans for MI5.

Early in 2006, almost a year after the secret agency's
expansion in Ulster had been announced, PSNI officers told
relatives of the Omagh bomb victims about an email sent to
MI5 by David Rupert, a 6ft 6ins FBI informant eight years

Rupert, who had penetrated dissident republicans, had
warned MI5 on April 11, 1998, that they were planning to
target Omagh. The warning was acted on, but was not passed
to the RUC.

The emergence of the email was clearly embarrassing to the
authorities at the time when MI5 was already preparing to
take charge of anti-terrorism in Northern Ireland. Dame
Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, refused to meet
the Omagh relatives to discuss it, and her boss - Home
Secretary, John Reid - has failed to even respond to a
similar request.

In one respect, the significance of the Rupert email is
open to question - the bombing team he warned about was not
the same one that carried out the Omagh bombing, so it does
not appear to be a case of MI5 having direct knowledge of
the killers and letting them through.

But there is no way of knowing if the warning could have
caused the RUC to pay more attention to the threat against
Omagh, and that is an issue that goes to the heart of
intelligence reforms.

A crucial issue in the transformation of the police
concerned intelligence sharing - or lack of it - between
Special Branch and the rest of the police. It was a point
that drew criticism from Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in
her report on the Omagh investigation.

Steps had been taken to tear down walls that existed within
the police, but the revelation about the Rupert email
raised concerns that new walls would go up in their place.

If MI5 was keeping information to itself when the RUC was
supposed to have primacy over intelligence, how much or
little would get through when MI5 takes charge?

After much wrangling behind the scenes - notably with the
PSNI, the Policing Board and some parties - the Government
took steps to address that issue with last week's St
Andrews Agreement.

It promises publicly that the PSNI will continue to run
most informers and - for the first time - acknowledges that
there will be "integrated working arrangements".

PSNI officers will work in MI5's new Northern Ireland
building "in a variety of roles including as intelligence
analysts/advisors and for the purpose of translating
intelligence into executive action".

Even if that is intelligence sharing taken care of, though
sources are cautious about saying the problem is solved,
there are still unanswered questions about MI5's role.

Chief among these for the SDLP is accountability when
something goes wrong. The Government paper at St Andrews
trumpeted current oversight arrangements for MI5, but most
of these are less than transparent.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan says the Government will be pushed
to go further, notably because he says the innocent have
less recourse to complaint than those targeted by the

"We still have a complaints system under which Osama can
complain about being got at by MI5, but the Omagh victims
cannot complain about being let down by MI5," he said. "We
need to improve that."


Opin: Parties Must Focus On Goals

While it is difficult to believe that the DUP could be
serious about walking away from the St Andrews Agreement
less than four days after its publication, yesterday’s
developments were hardly an encouraging sign.

Most observers believe that Ian Paisley wants to finalise a
deal that would

enable him to be confirmed as Northern Ireland’s new first
minister and it had been generally assumed that he would
carry his party with him.

The fact that the DUP MEP Jim Allister took a decidedly
cool view of the St Andrews proposals was first reported in
The Irish News last Saturday and he went on to list a
series of his objections to the blueprint in the News
Letter yesterday morning.

However, it still came as a surprise just a matter of hours
later to find a rattled Mr Paisley pulling out of a
scheduled meeting at Stormont which was also due to be
attended by Gerry Adams.

The question of ministerial oaths of office was bound to
arise at some stage, although it was particularly curious
that it barely rated a mention in Scotland last week but
suddenly jumped to the top of the DUP agenda yesterday.

While the issue is fully capable of being resolved in an
appropriate way, much bigger challenges lie ahead.

The big prize remains a clear Sinn Fein endorsement of our
new policing structures and a full DUP commitment to power-

Achieving both these objectives will provide a firm
foundation for the return of devolved government at

All sides need to concentrate on the real priorities in the
days ahead.


Opin: Parties Must Focus On The Big Picture

18 October 2006

Just five days on from the unveiling of the St Andrews
Agreement, the cracks are beginning to appear. The decision
by the Rev Ian Paisley to boycott yesterday's meeting at
Stormont of the Preparation for Government committee is a
worrying sign of discontent which the two Governments must

As intended, Mr Paisley's move served to highlight a
dispute between the DUP and the Government over precisely
when Ministers in the new power-sharing executive should
take their oaths of office which crucially, incorporates an
endorsement of the Police Service.

According to the DUP, it was agreed at St Andrews that the
prospective Ministers would sign up on November 24. But the
Northern Ireland Office maintains that this is not the
case, given that the Ministers are only being appointed in
shadow status on that date.

The Government's view is that the ministerial pledge does
not have to be taken until March 26, the point at which it
is proposed that power will be devolved. Once again,
though, the issue of sequencing is moving to centre stage.

If the agreement is not to unravel, the Governments will
have to move fast and clear the air. From the DUP's point
of view, an early acknowledgement by Sinn Fein of support
for the police would provide useful cloud cover as the
party makes up its mind about the deal.

From a Sinn Fein perspective, a Ministerial oath must await
the Ard Fheis verdict on policing. While the tide is
flowing inexorably towards a declaration of support, it is
unrealistic to expect Martin McGuinness to give his backing
for the PSNI in advance of a party conference.

The problem is that things are moving so fast that elements
in both the DUP and Sinn Fein are having trouble catching
up. Jim Allister speaks for a segment of his party in
voicing his concerns about certain aspects of the

Similarly, Sinn Fein faces dissent from certain relatives
of the 1981 hunger strikers, who are opposed to the party
backing the PSNI.

The row over the ministerial oath is an early setback, but
it must not be allowed to derail the entire deal. It is
just the first of a number of hurdles to be overcome, the
next of which is likely to be a row over whether the deal
should be affirmed by means of an election in Northern
Ireland or an all-Ireland referendum.

Nothing about the peace process has ever been easy, and
progress has only been made when parties see the need for
compromise. If the deal is to stick, nobody is going to get
all they want.

This is a complex deal, and there are bound to be disputes
and doubts as the detail is thrashed out. But if we really
are at a "pivotal point in history", as Peter Hain
predicts, then everyone will have to keep their eyes on the
big picture.


Opin: Is St Andrews A Bumpy Road Or Cul De Sac?

The problem with roadmaps to peace is that they can be a
bit like Sat-Nav. They have correctly identified your
destination. But on the way there, they have a tendency to
steer you down the odd cul de sac.

The St Andrews Agreement (if that is what we are to call
it) may then be the political equivalent of that prim
women's voice on the in-car navigation system telling you
to take the fourth exit at the next roundabout.

The problem being that when you get to the roundabout you
find that, actually, there are only three exits ?

Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to any of us in
Northern Ireland.

Seasoned travellers on the road to peace that we are, this
is not the first such road map we've been asked to
consider, pore over and even attempt to follow.

At least Peter Hain has had the wit, for once, not to call
the latest version "seismic" and "historic" - descriptions
which when applied to just about anything in Northern
Ireland inevitably ensures that it won't be.

Instead Peter's confined himself to the relatively muted
"extraordinary" and "astonishing".

Which this Tartan Template will be - if does indeed lead
all parties to Stormont.

Here's the thing, though.

First, Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams have to convince their
respective supporters that this is a path they want to go

Of the two, I suspect that for once (and this in itself is
both seismic and historic) it may be easier to sell the
thing to unionists.

Although there is an oft-pedalled line that unionists
simply do not want to share power with nationalists, the
fact is that this is just not the case.

It is not nationalists per se that so many unionists of all
shades have had a difficulty with.

It's the representatives - in some cases the members even -
of a fully functioning, fully armed terrorist/gangster
outfit sitting at the very heart of government.

And it should be stressed that many, many unionists would
feel exactly the same revulsion at the thought of
representatives and members of a fully functioning, fully
armed LOYALIST terrorist/gangster outfit sitting at the
very heart of government.

The IRA has decommissioned an indeterminate quantity of its
weapons. It has had one good report from the IMC and may
have another by spring. But it is still up to its oxters in

If Sinn Fein does back policing and the rule of law in the
near future, however, (and that's a big 'if') many
unionists may be prepared to accept that this signals a new

The question is, though, will DUP supporters ever tolerate
Ian Paisley sitting down with Martin McGuinness?

A much more relevant question may be - will republican
supporters ever tolerate Martin McGuinness sitting down
with Ian Paisley?

Put it another way - how will republican supporters feel
about one of the two leading figures who assured them for
over 30 years that they were directly en route to a united
Ireland, suddenly doing a U-turn, parking up at Stormont,
saluting the constabulary and hastening indoors to do
business with Big Ian?

A few years back that scenario would have been enough to
make a hunger striker send out for a kebab.

Today, you can't help but feel that, as Gerry attempts to
drive this one forward, it's not the little voice in the
back calling out "are we there yet?" he may find hardest to

But a louder clamour demanding to know: "The Troubles: what
was all that about, Gerry?"

Almost 4,000 human beings dead. Countless thousands maimed.
Families ripped apart, lives shattered. All that misery.
All that suffering.

What was that about, Gerry?

Almost 40 years after the violence first erupted, Sinn Fein
seems to be telling its supporters to settle for the
"extraordinary" and "astonishing" return of Stormont, a bit
of north-southery and a universal acceptance of policing.

The republican movement and its political wing style
themselves as being the slickest, cleverest things ever to
hit Irish politics.

Yet not so slick and clever, it turns out, that they
couldn't achieve all of the above without mass murder.

The hardened cynics among us won't be popping the champagne
corks over the St Andrews Agreement just yet.

We've been stung too many times in the past - not least, Mr
Hain may care to note - by duplicitous New Labour.

The interesting thing is that for all the pot holes and, as
yet, hidden dips the St Andrews roadmap may involve, the
destination at least seems clearly defined.

The route outlined may yet entail a bumpy ride.

But whatever else it may turn out to be, this is not the
rocky road to Dublin.


New US Ambassador Presents His Credentials

Last updated: 18-10-06, 07:19

The new US Ambassador to Ireland is to present his
credentials to President Mary McAleese at her Áras an
Úachtaráin residence in Dublin today.

Connecticut-based businessman Thomas C Foley replaced James
Kenny at the US Embassy in Ballsbridge this month.

Chicago-born Mr Foley (54) was nominated for the position
in July by President George Bush and sworn into office on
September 28th.

The father-of-one attended Harvard University with Mr Bush
and they later remained close friends. Despite his surname,
Mr Foley is not known to have any direct ancestry in

Mr Kenny ended his three-year term as the top US diplomat
in Ireland on October 6th.

In 2003 and 2004 Mr Foley worked in Iraq and had
responsibility for restarting the economy and boosting
growth of private businesses and private sector employment.

He oversaw Iraq's 192 state-owned enterprises, developing
foreign trade and investment, and advising the ministries
of trade and industry.

He received the Department of Defence Distinguished Public
Service Award in June, 2004 for his service in Iraq.

© 2006


Ulster Pupil Enjoys Sudoku Success

By Lisa Smyth
18 October 2006

A 12-Year-old Ulster schoolboy has managed to beat off
stiff competition to secure second place in his category of
the prestigious Times National Sudoku Championship.

Numerical whizz kid Michael Quinn travelled to Cheltenham
at the weekend to participate in the under-13 section of
the hotly contested competition.

And the second year Down High pupil and Mensa member has
already voiced his intention to enter the competition next
year - but says he is determined to win his category next

"I wasn't very nervous because I thought I was going to win
but I'm not disappointed. I'm pleased I came second, but I
would like to win it next year," he said.

Michael had to complete three Sudoku grids in 60 minutes -
and although he did not fill out all the grids correctly,
his performance was good enough for him to secure second

He added: "My mum got me into it but I don't play all the

"I play every now and again. I wouldn't make a habit of it
really but I do enjoy it."

His proud father, Kevin Quinn, has described his delight at
his son's success in the national competition.

"We are very happy he did so well. He seemed to take it all
in his stride.

"I asked him if he was nervous beforehand and he said he
wasn't as nervous as he was before his 11-plus and that
didn't really seem that nervous then."

Meanwhile, a Belfast man is celebrating after securing
second place in his category of the much sought after

Queen's University electrical engineer David McNeill (43),
took just two minutes longer than the overall winner to
complete all three grids.


Village’s Normalisation Prompts Heritage Fears

By Suzanne McGonagle

More than 150 years after it was founded as a ‘model
village’, the face of Bessbrook in south Armagh is changing
dramatically, reports Suzanne McGonagle

Bessbrook, situated close to the expanding city of Newry,
was once renowned for its spacious streets, sprawling land
and a commitment to the ‘three Ps’ – no public houses, no
pawn shops and no police station.

However, with the passage of time residents believe their
beautiful village is in danger of veering from its historic

Amid fears that its rich history is disappearing, residents
are also concerned that a Department of the Environment
review of land in the area will see the loss of an
important landmark.

Residents have formed the Bessbrook Heritage Group and
launched a campaign to preserve the area’s historic
buildings and environment to try to “bring the village back
to life again”.

Founded in 1845, Bessbrook surrounded a large linen mill
owned by a Quaker family, the Richard-sons, with residents
following the ‘three Ps’.

To this day there are no public houses in the village, nor
are there any pawn shops. However, there is a police

Bessbrook Mill once provided almost all the area’s
employment and at one stage around 3,000 people worked in
it. Its linen was regarded as some of the best in the

The mill was built from the area’s granite and despite
being a large industrial building it was pleasing to the
eye with defining features including a fine stained-glass
window in the engine room.

From the 1970s the British army needed a substantial base
in south Armagh.

With business all but finished at the mill, it soon became
a base for the army. The nearby helicopter pad became one
of the busiest in Europe.

Some of the mill’s original features, such as the tall
chimneys, were removed to clear the helicopters’ flight
path. High steel perimeter walls were erected.

However, with the army due to move out of the mill,
residents have voiced fears over the building’s future.

They are concerned that the mill will be destroyed as part
of a review of the Banbridge/Newry and Mourne areas.

A major worry is that Bessbrook Mill is not a listed

In the plan, the site in which the mill stands is zoned for
‘mixed use’ development – housing, retail and leisure.

However, campaigners said the plan makes no mention of the
mill, which they fear may mean no protection for “one of
the most historically interesting industrial buildings in

Campaigners argue that in other areas old mills have been
successfully restored and reused, for example the Mill
Village in Com-ber, Co Down, and the Linen Lofts complex in

“We are calling for the protection of the buildings so that
we don’t throw away a unique opportunity to bring the
village back to life again,” a spokeswoman for Bessbrook
Heritage Group said.

“It seems ridiculous that the conservation area designation
in-cludes all of the other historically significant parts
of the village yet skirts past the most important one of
all – the very reason for Bessbrook’s existence.

“We just don’t know what the fate of the mill will be,
which is why we are calling for its protection.

“Every individual who feels concerned about this should
take action to urge those in authority to protect it.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment said:
“In the draft Banbridge/Newry and Mourne Area Plan 2015,
published on August 22 2006, the Bessbrook Mill site was
zoned for mixed-use development.

“The period for receipt of representations and objections
to the draft plan runs until October 17 2006 and a number
of objections have already been received relating to the
non-inclusion of the mill within an area of townscape
character or local landscape policy area.

“Planning Service will consider all objections received and
may ask the Planning Appeals Comm-ission to hold a public
examination for this purpose.

“A final version of the plan incorporating any amendments
or revisions will be published in due course.”


Irish Americans Told, ‘County Roscommon Needs You’

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is to highlight
the opportunities available to those wishing to live and
work in County Roscommon at an upcoming FÁS Jobs Ireland
event in New York City.

Whether those attending are Irish, Irish American or have
no connection at all with Ireland, the WDC will promote the
prospect of job and business opportunities and the great
lifestyle offered in towns like Boyle, Castlerea, Roscommon
and the rest of the Western region.

According to Gillian Buckley, CEO of the WDC, many of those
Irish living in the States “may not realise that the West
of Ireland has changed dramatically in recent years. Over
40,000 people have moved into the seven western county
region over the past four years. The West has experienced
considerable economic and social development in the past
few years. There has been significant population growth,
new and growing industries very many of them American, with
exciting job opportunities,” she said.

“The West is now recognised as a vibrant, exciting place to
live and work, with thriving towns, wonderful villages and
regenerated rural areas. We are attending the Fás
Exhibition in New York to promote the Western Region.Many
people have made the move West in recent years and the WDC
has also had enquiries from people in the US through our website, some of whom were interested in
setting up businesses back home,” she added.

The LookWest campaign has been very successful in drawing
attention to the benefits of life in the West.

Over 100,000 people have accessed the website since its launch and the skills register on
the site has attracted people to give details of their
qualifications and skills. To date, the advertising and
promotion of Look West has been targeted primarily at the
greater Dublin area with some advertising on overseas
websites and media. Ms. Buckley said: “This event gives us
a unique opportunity to talk to thousands of New York based
Irish people face to face and to bring the message of
LookWest to a much wider overseas audience.

“Of those people who may be considering a move back to
Ireland, they may think that Dublin is their only option in
terms of job opportunities, services, lifestyle and

LookWest can show them how much more towns like Boyle,
Roscommon and the West in general has to offer, with a wide
range of high skilled jobs available, shorter commuting
times, good quality, more affordable housing, cheaper
services and overall a less stressful lifestyle,She

Ms Buckley urged people throughout County Roscommon who
have friends and families in the US, to tell them about the
FÁS event where they could inform them about the
opportunities available, whether they were looking for a
job, planning on setting up a business or interested in
relocating an existing business.”

The FÁS Jobs Ireland event in New York City takes place on
October 20th and 21st at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel, 7th
Avenue at 31st Street, 371 7th Avenue, New York.

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