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November 27, 2006

Sinn Fein Keen To Press Ahead

News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 11/27/06 Sinn Féin Keen To Press Ahead
IT 11/28/06 Paisley Signals Readiness To Enter Power With SF
BN 11/27/06 UDA Distances Itself From 'Recluse' Stone
BB 11/27/06 House Raided After Stone Arrest
IT 11/28/06 Stormont To See Return Of Armed Police
IT 11/27/06 McCabe 4 To Challenge Release Policy
BB 11/27/06 Prominent Loyalist Refused Bail
BN 11/27/06 Ombudsman Faced Revolt Over McCartney Probe
IT 11/28/06 Diplock Courts Set To Be Abolished In North
IT 11/27/06 Sinn Fein Joins Dublin Policing Body
RT 11/27/06 Taoiseach: Devolved Govt Will Boost NI Economy
TE 11/27/06 Britain Wants UK Break Up, Poll Shows
MS 11/27/06 Blog: And You Dear To Call Me A Terrorist
PA 11/27/06 Blog: The South
PA 11/27/06 Blog: Views Of The IRA
PB 11/27/06 Blog: Slaughter Fatted Calf For Paisley
IT 11/28/06 Purchase Offers Sent To Great Blasket Owners
LA 11/27/06 Booming Belfast Puts Its Blasts In The Past
CP 11/27/06 Easter Rising Tales Come To NKY
WC 11/27/06 Conflict -- N. Ireland's Sectarian Tattoos Fade
SB 11/27/06 Blog: Reading In The Dark


Sinn Féin Keen To Press Ahead

Published: 27 November, 2006

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said today that the Speaker
had made her ruling regarding the positions of First and
Deputy First Minister and that it is now Sinn Fein's
intention to press ahead with all the outstanding necessary
issues which need to be addressed

Mr Adams said:

"The Speaker has made her ruling regarding the positions of
First and Deputy First Minster. With the exception of Bob
McCartney, none of the parties in the chamber dissented
from that ruling.

"The rest of the day's business will be taken up by the
Programme for Government meeting. It is Sinn Fein's
intention to press ahead with all the outstanding necessary
issues which need to be addressed.

"This is a difficult process. It is far from perfect and we
are not naive. It is very much inch by inch. It is a
matter of trying to bring representatives across a line
and into a new place and I would appeal to nationalists
and republicans to remain focused during this period."

When asked by the media about Peter Hain's call for Sinn
Féin to clarify their position on Policing, Mr Adams said:

"Peter Hain understands our position fully and so should
everybody else. He is playing politics with the policing

We have seen, even as I stand here, the difficulties he has
got himself into by playing politics with victims, playing
politics with the Orange Parades, playing politics with
equality and other issues.

"We are not about playing politics with policing. We are
about depoliticising policing. I don't think anyone would
expect us to take responsibility for policing without there
being executive authority.

"However other parties, and I think particularly the SDLP,
have bought into MI5 involvement in the PSNI, they have
bought into no timeframe at all on the transfer of powers
of policing and justice. Sinn Fein has a different

position. We believe in civic policing - the vision which
was outlined in the Good Friday Agreement.

"We think we can get there and rather than Peter Hain
asking us for clarification, he should provide
clarification on these matters so we can have depoliticised
civic policing where every citizen can be given some sense
that every police officer will be held accountable in the
mechanisms outlined." ENDS


Paisley Signals Readiness To Enter Power With Sinn Féin

Gerry Moriarty and Frank Millar

Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has given his
most positive signal yet that he is prepared to enter power
with Sinn Féin following an election in the North next

In the face of acknowledged dissent within his party over
the St Andrews Agreement, Dr Paisley said a powersharing
deal was possible within the timeframe set out by the
British and Irish governments.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Northern Secretary Peter Hain
warned yesterday there would no point in holding the March
7th election without earlier agreement that Sinn Féin and
the DUP would form a powersharing government.

Mr Hain said an election would be pointless if Sinn Féin
had not called an ardfheis on policing before the end of

Mr Ahern, speaking in London where he addressed a
conference of business leaders last night, expressed
confidence that Sinn Féin would sign up to policing. He
said it would be possible then to achieve subsequent
agreement on a timetable for the devolution of policing and
justice powers, as prescribed by both governments, by
summer 2008.

Asked if there was no Sinn Féin ardfheis by the end of
January and, therefore, no agreement by the DUP to form a
government by March 26th, what would be the point of the
Assembly elections, he replied: "There would be none."

Dr Paisley made clear yesterday that he was willing to see
a powersharing government with Sinn Féin subject, chiefly,
to that party signing up to policing and the rule of law.
This was the case notwithstanding that some senior DUP
members such as North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and MEP Jim
Allister had concerns about St Andrews.

In broadcast interviews with RTÉ, UTV, BBC and Downtown
Radio after yesterday's reconvened meeting of the Northern
Assembly, he said there was no challenge to his leadership,
although there was the "odd squabble" in the party over St
Andrews. "There are two or three people who had second
thoughts about the way we are going. I think that is
cleared up now. I think that we are all singing from the
same hymn sheets at the moment, and we will," he said.

He moderated Mr Dodds' position that policing and justice
would not be devolved for a "political lifetime", saying:
"If Gerry Adams brings about the conditions by his actions
that will cause the Protestant population to trust him,
then doing that can very much deal with the timeframe."

He indicated he was conditionally prepared to accept the
post of first minister, with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness
as deputy.

"I am not sure if I want it or not but I will accept it. I
will do my duty to my country. I will do my best if I ever
get the job to serve all parts of the population, as I have
already done as an ordinary member of parliament," he said.

"If there is now going to be a good way of getting to a
place where we can agree and agree without selling the
kernel of democracy, which is obedience to the law, then
let's do it," he said.


UDA Distances Itself From 'Recluse' Stone

27/11/2006 - 23:57:10

Loyalist killer Michael Stone’s former paramilitary
associates had no advance warning of his attempted bomb
attack on Stormont, they claimed tonight.

In a statement distancing itself from the Milltown Cemetery
murderer’s astonishing solo strike on Parliament Buildings
in Belfast, the Ulster Defence Association branded him a
recluse who had become estranged from its membership.

The terror organisation also rejected reports that it
despatched four carloads of UDA men to intercept, arrest or
shoot Stone on Friday as he travelled to Stormont,
allegedly carrying a bag of home-made explosives for an
assassination attempt on Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness.

The statement said: “The Ulster Defence Association had no
prior knowledge of Stone’s intention and it is becoming
increasingly clear that he acted alone.”

The loyalist, who was freed early under the Good Friday
Agreement from his life sentences for killing three
mourners at a republican funeral, is back in jail after
being remanded on attempted murder charges brought after he
was overpowered and arrested at the front door of Stormont.

The UDA said he had been accepted and supported by its ex-
prisoner community after he was freed from the Maze Prison.
It offered him what limited resources were available to
them at the time, the statement said.

It added: “He was content for a period to work within this
reintegration process.

“But for the past two years he became estranged, wishing to
pursue issues of truth and reconciliation, engaging with
(Archbishop) Desmond Tutu and wishing to engage with other
ex-combatants in the republican community.

“This organisation was not ready for this type of
development and Michael has since become more reclusive and

“Due to the lack of resources available to ex-prisoners’
groups they were unable to deliver a comprehensive
programme that could help people like Michael.”


House Raided After Stone Arrest

Police officers have completed their search of a house in
Dundonald on the outskirts of east Belfast.

It is understood the search was in relation to the arrest
on Friday of the loyalist killer Michael Stone.

Officers dressed in forensic suits searched in and around
the house on the Grahams Bridge Road near the junction with
Comber Road.

Police have declined to comment on the search except to say
that it was in relation to serious crime.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/11/27 22:53:41 GMT


Stormont To See Return Of Armed Police

Dan Keenan Northern News Editor

Assembly parties united yesterday to endorse the Speaker's
praise for civilian staff who disarmed and detained Michael
Stone at Stormont last Friday.

Confirming that a security review had begun, Mrs Eileen
Bell said: "No-one should underestimate the very real
danger everyone in the building faced. The devices that
were defused may have been crude in nature, but were no
less life threatening for that."

The Irish Times understands that Assembly security staff
were supplemented last Friday by an outside security firm
and that the woman who wrested a gun from the loyalist
killer was employed by them.

Security at Stormont is now being reviewed with armed
police officers taking up positions in the grounds and just
inside the doors of the Great Hall, where Stone attempted
to launch his attack.

It is the first time routine policing has returned to
Parliament Buildings since 2001 when the "brawl in the
hall" involving some Assembly members took place.

The Assembly session, which resumed after last week's
suspension due to the attack, heard Alliance leader David
Ford conclude his speech with criticism of the main
unionist and nationalist parties. However, the main
discordant note of the debate came from UK Unionist Robert
McCartney who dismissed last Friday's contributions from
Sinn Féin and the DUP as "a choreographed puppet show".

He said the speech by the Rev Ian Paisley was a "moment of
truth" for the DUP leader and his party.

"When you, Madam Speaker, on Peter Hain's instructions,
deemed Ian Paisley's response as an acceptance [ that he
will go into an Executive alongside Martin McGuinness], he
could there and then have denied that it was. He did not,"
Mr McCartney told the chamber.

"I understand that his response omitted the express
acceptance in the text agreed with Tony Blair.
Subsequently, he publicly accepted the nomination outside
this chamber." Mr McCartney charged that this was an
invalid acceptance and ought to be repeated inside the
Assembly and for it to be recorded.

He accused the DUP of being a "born again" pro-Belfast
Agreement party and of making a blatant u-turn on its
stated position included in its last manifesto.

He said Peter Hain and Tony Blair wanted devolution at any
price "before Blair retires and Hain moves on".

"They are indifferent to the unstable, unworkable and
undemocratic mess they leave behind." Devolution for Sinn
Féin was, he added, "a mere cog in their all-Ireland

"Acceptance by the DUP as coalition partners will
legitimise their claim to a place in the government of the
Republic." The DUP, Mr McCartney claimed, wanted to "move
on by selling their unionist principles for a mess of
ministerial potage".

Speaking after the debate, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams
said: "This is a difficult process. It is very much inch by
inch. It is a matter of trying to bring representatives
across a line and into a new place." He accused Mr Hain of
politicking with the issue of policing.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey pointed to what he
said was the DUP's tacit acceptance of the governments'
interpretation that Ian Paisley is publicly prepared to
become First Minister with Martin McGuinness as Deputy
First Minister.

"No attempt was made today by Dr Paisley or Gerry Adams to
resile from anything that was said either in the chamber or
outside on Friday," he said. "That means effectively that
we have an embryonic First and Deputy First Minister in
office and within the hour we will be going to a meeting of
an embryonic shadow executive."

He accused the DUP of jumping without delivery on policing
from republicans or any indicative timetable on when they
would accept the PSNI.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan questioned the governments'
decision that there existed a reliable basis on which to
proceed with efforts towards restoring devolution.

"We now see questions arising as to when Sinn Féin might
address the issue of policing. That, in turn, brings back
the deadlock from the DUP, saying they are not moving in
relation to restoration without Sinn Féin having already
moved on policing," he said.

London and Dublin had to address that problem.


McCabe 4 To Challenge Release Policy

Four men serving jail sentences in relation to the death of
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare have been gratned
leave to challenge the circumstances under which they
recieve temporary release.

Kevin Walsh, Michael O'Neill, Pearse McAuley and Jeremiah
Sheehy, who are all in custody in Castlerea Prison, secured
leave from Mr Justice John McMenamin to each bring judicial
review challenges over what they claim is a policy since
January 2004 to refuse them temporary release.

The four are serving sentences ranged from 11 to 14 years
in connection with the attempted robbery of the post office
at Adare, Co Limerick on June 7th, 1996 which resulted in
the death of Det Garda McCabe.

They are also seeking declarations that the repeated
refusals of temporary release since January 2004 is
capricious, arbitrary and an unjust exercise of the
temporary release powers of the Governor and the Minister
for Justice. They also want a declaration that they are
entitled to have their requests for temporary release

The men claim they have been singled out, in an arbitrary
and unjust manner and without any objective justification,
for exclusion from proper consideration for temporary

Patrick Gageby SC, for the men, said there appeared in the
last two years to be a policy of refusing applications for
temporary release to the men.

The court heard that until January 2004, each of the four
had secured temporary release for visits to family members
for special occasions or sickness but that all subsequent
requests had been refused.

McCauley, originally from Strabane, Co Tyrone, and Sheehy,
from Limerick, were jailed for 14 years and 12 years
respectively in early 1999 after pleading guilty at the
non-jury Special Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Det
Garda McCabe.

Walsh (45) of Patrickswell, Co Limerick also got a 14 year-
year jail term in connection with the Adare incident while
O'Neill was jailed for 11 years. The judge returned the
cases to December 19th.


Prominent Loyalist Refused Bail

A high-profile north Belfast loyalist has had his
application for bail turned down for a second time.

A High Court judge ruled that releasing Ihab Shoukri from
custody would "pose a risk to the public".

Mr Shoukri is charged with membership of the Ulster Defence
Association and the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

He was arrested and charged following a police raid on the
Alexandra Bar on York Road in Belfast in March this year.


Ombudsman Faced Revolt Over McCartney Murder Probe

27/11/2006 - 14:27:42

Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan faced an
open revolt from staff opposed to her decision to become
involved in the Robert McCartney murder inquiry, it was
revealed today.

They planned a vote of no confidence after she offered to
take witness statements to break the wall of silence
surrounding the killing outside a central Belfast bar.

Investigating officers in the watchdog organisation,
outraged at being drawn into the hunt for IRA men who beat
and stabbed the 33-year-old father of two to death in
January last year, claimed the office’s independence had
been compromised.

Security fears were also raised by some staff alarmed at
providing assistance to the inquiry into a paramilitary-
related murder.

At least three of the officers who objected to the move
have since quit, while another has been suspended from duty
on a separate case.

Their departure has provoked demands for an inquiry into
the handling of staff affairs within the Ombudsman’s

A series of emails to senior members of staff revealed the
level of anger felt by some members of Mrs O’Loan’s team.

One said: “Single-handedly she has managed to annihilate
five years’ hard work by this office.

“She lectured us about impartiality and independence until
our ears were bleeding and then goes out… and creates what
is effectively a two-tier police service.”

Opposition to their involvement broke out among staff
recruited in the North and those seconded from outside
police forces.

Up to 25 staff members in one investigative team were
called to a meeting in March last year soon after it was
announced that the Ombudsman’s Office would be assisting by
taking witness statements.

“There was a head count and we were confident a majority
would endorse the vote of no confidence in Nuala O’Loan’s
decision to involve us with the McCartney murder
investigation,” one source disclosed.

It is understood the ballot was called off only after an
appeal from a senior member of the team worried it would
create difficulties for him with management.

Much of the anger and concern was based on the perceived
risks of being linked to an inquiry focused on hardened IRA
men suspected over the killing.

Although one man has been charged with the murder, the
victim’s sisters believe at least a dozen others were
involved in the attack and subsequent cover-up.

With intimidation rife in east Belfast’s staunchly
republican Short Strand district, where members of the
McCartney family lived until they moved out in disgust at
their treatment, fears were expressed that the Ombudsman’s
representatives would be targeted next.

One member of staff hit out at senior managers after they
insisted their role posed no risk to the organisation.

“I find this an incredible assertion,” he wrote in another

“Are these people (ie the IRA) who are intimidating the
people of the Short Strand incapable of extending their
threat to the members of this organisation, particularly
the investigators who are the frontline representatives of
the Police Ombudsman?

“Does the SMT (Senior Management Team) believe that we are

“I believe that by unilaterally, and without consultation,
taking the above decision the SMT have put my colleagues
and me at risk.

“The Police Ombudsman/SMT has also put at risk the
operational integrity of this organisation, in that I for
one would not feel safe, as an employee of the Police
Ombudsman, conducting inquiries in the Short Strand area,
or indeed any high risk area.”

Another investigator contacted a team commander setting out
a detailed opposition.

“Unless I have overlooked something, I believe this issue
is not within the remit of PONI (Police Ombudsman of
Northern Ireland),” the staff member’s email said.

“I question why we, as investigators, are not permitted to
disclose statements to police in other situations due to
our ’independence’, however in this case an exception has
been made.”

Only a handful of statements are understood to have been
taken by the Ombudsman’s Office since the offer of
assistance was made.

One of Mrs O’Loan’s fiercest critics demanded to know why
the scale of opposition was not made public.

Ian Paisley Jr, a Democratic Unionist member of the
Northern Ireland Policing Board, said: “There should be an
inquiry into how the Ombudsman’s Office operates and
manages staff.

“These investigators have considerable integrity, but it
seems disgraceful that their e-mails have been disregarded.

“If Nuala O’Loan was transparent about her own operation,
she would have said she was facing these difficulties.

“We have lost critical people, including a member of an
internationally recognised police force and other services,
because of this.”

A spokesman for Mrs O’Loan confirmed anxiety was expressed
by some of her officers.

But he also stressed the Office had carried out similar
work by offering to destroy DNA samples provided in an
attempt to aid the inquiry into the murder of a new-born
baby whose body was dumped near Belfast in 2002.

He said: “There was some concern among some staff about the
Police Ombudsman’s involvement in this case.

“That was because it wasn’t the normal sort of work we
carry out.

“But it was explained to those members of staff what we
proposed to do and how we proposed to do it.

“We also reminded them that we had done something similar
with the Baby Carrie incident and that seemed to resolve
the matter.”


Non-Jury Diplock Courts Set To Be Abolished In North

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Northern Ireland's controversial non-jury Diplock courts
are to be abolished under legislation introduced at
Westminster by Northern Secretary Peter Hain last night.

The trial system that was proposed by Lord Diplock in 1972
and introduced the following year will be replaced in July
next year, although there will still be allowance to hold
non-jury courts, according to the Northern Ireland Office

Hitherto, trials relating to all scheduled offences,
generally paramilitary crimes, were held in Diplock courts
unless the British attorney general specifically decided
they must be jury cases.

Under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill,
however, there will be the "presumption of a jury trial" in
most cases, said the NIO.

All cases will be jury trials unless the North's director
of public prosecutions decided that particular cases
required a non-jury trial.

Exceptions to jury trials will be where there is a
paramilitary or sectarian element to cases involving a
"threat to justice".

SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said while progress
was made on Diplock courts, "renewed vigilance is required
to guarantee that one-judge courts do not become a routine
part of the future legal architecture in the North".

Under the new system, defence lawyers will no longer be
able to peremptorily or without justification challenge up
to 12 potential jurors. There will also be criminal record
checks on jurors.

The Bill will provide new powers for the North's Human
Rights Commission, giving it access to places of detention,
access to official documents and the facility to seek
judicial reviews in cases that are viewed as contravening
European Convention on Human Rights, according to the NIO.

The Bill, part of the greater so-called "normalisation" or
demilitarisation process, allows the British army to
continue to have the power to stop and search and provide
backup for the PSNI when deemed necessary.

It also seeks to tighten standards in the private security
industry to prevent organised crime and paramilitary
involvement in the industry.


Sinn Fein Joins Dublin Policing Body

The first Sinn Féin politician to take an official role in
policing tonight confirmed he was breaking new ground for
the party.

Dublin city councillor Larry O'Toole, a candidate in the
forthcoming general election, said he took up the position
in the city's embryonic policing partnership to ensure

But the vice-chair of the Dublin City Joint Policing
Committee insisted his appointment should not be taken as
an indication of the party's position on the PSNI.

Despite the intense focus on Sinn Féin's relationship with
the police in Northern Ireland, its new departure in the
Republic has gone virtually unnoticed.

"I am breaking ground," said Mr O'Toole, "I want to be
doing what we're doing here because to get accountability
we need to be involved with this."

"But policing in the six counties is an entirely different
matter. There may be issues about policing in the south but
they are issues that can be dealt with." It is the first
time in the history of the state that a relationship
between the Garda and local authorities has been placed on
a statutory footing. The Dublin North East councillor and
his son both survived a gun attack on them during a First
Communion ceremony at a church in the city in 1998. He has
demanded gun crime be placed high on the agenda of the new
policing partnership.

The Policing Committee is one of the first of 22 pilot
partnerships being rolled out across the State at a cost of
€600,000. PA


Taoiseach: Devolved Govt Will Boost NI Economy

27 November 2006 23:29

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that the re-establishment
of a devolved powersharing government in Northern Ireland
next March would boost economic progress there.

Speaking in London at the annual conference of the
Confederation of British Industry, Mr Ahern said there was
no reason why the Celtic Tiger could not be an all-island

The Taoiseach said that he was in negotiation with the
British treasury about a potential package that could help
both economies, North and South, and that it would be an
important part of the new National Development Plan.

Earlier, the DUP leader Ian Paisley confirmed that if
certain conditions were met, he would become First Minister
in a power-sharing administration with Sinn Féin.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Paisley said: 'I will do my duty
and I will do my best to serve all parts of the population.

He said he had 'a good rapport with people from all parts
of the island and we deserve better things'.

The assembly resumed its sitting this morning after it was
suspended on Friday.

At the resumed session, Mr Paisley was accused of being
prepared to sell out on unionist principles.

The Independent UK Unionist Assembly member, Bob McCartney,
asked was 'enforced coalition with Sinn Féin what the men
and women of the security forces and the unionist community
had died and suffered for?'.

He called the DUP a born-again pro-Belfast Agreement party
and warned that similar policies brought electoral disaster
on the Ulster Unionist Party under David Trimble.

This morning's session was concluded in less than 25

Security staff praised

The Assembly speaker paid tribute to the Stormont security
staff for their actions when loyalist Michael Stone was
detained at the front door of Parliament buildings last

Assembly members faced increased security measures as they
arrived to resume discussions.

Two PSNI officers stood inside the front entrance of
Parliament Buildings, just yards away from where Michael
Stone was wedged in a door by security staff when he tried
to launch an attack last Friday.

Assembly security guards were also positioned in the
grounds of the Stormont estate.

The Assembly speaker, Eileen Bell, told MLAs that, having
been briefed by PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and one of
his assistant chief constables, it was clear there was a
very real danger of loss of life or serious injury on

She said the devices that were defused may have been crude
in nature but were nonetheless life-threatening for that.


Britain Wants UK Break Up, Poll Shows

By Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:29am GMT 27/11/2006

The United Kingdom should be broken up and Scotland and
England set free as independent nations, according to a
huge number of voters on both sides of the border.

A clear majority of people in both England and Scotland are
in favour of full independence for Scotland, an ICM opinion
poll for The Sunday Telegraph has found. Independence is
backed by 52 per cent of Scots while an astonishing 59 per
cent of English voters want Scotland to go it alone.

There is also further evidence of rising English
nationalism with support for the establishment of an
English parliament hitting an historic high of 68 per cent
amongst English voters. Almost half – 48 per cent – also
want complete independence for England, divorcing itself
from Wales and Northern Ireland as well. Scottish voters
also back an English breakaway with 58 per cent supporting
an English parliament with similar powers to the Scottish

The poll comes only months before the 300th anniversary of
the Act of Union between England and Scotland and will
worry all three main political parties. None of them
favours Scottish independence, but all have begun internal
debates on the future of the constitution.

The dramatic findings came as Gordon Brown, the favourite
to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister, delivered an
impassioned defence of the Union at Labour's Scottish
conference in Oban yesterday.

In an attack on the Scottish National Party, against whom
Labour will fight a bitter battle for control of the
Edinburgh-based parliament next May, the Chancellor
claimed: "We should never let the Nationalists deceive
people into believing that you can break up the United

The ICM poll told a very different story, however, with 60
per cent of English voters complaining that higher levels
of public spending per head of the population in Scotland
were "unjustified", compared to 28 per cent claiming they
were justified. Even among Scots, 36 per cent said the
system was unfair, with only 51 per cent supporting it.

Voters also had serious concerns about the so-called West
Lothian Question, the ability of Scottish MPs at
Westminster to vote on solely English matters while many
purely Scottish issues are decided in Edinburgh. Sixty-two
per cent of English voters want Scottish MPs stripped of
this right and even 46 per cent of Scots agreed. The poll
showed that the English are more likely to think of
themselves as British than the Scots are. Only 16 per cent
of English people said they were "English, not British",
compared to 26 per cent of Scots who said they were
"Scottish, not British."

In the sporting arena, 70 per cent of English people said
they would support a Scottish team playing football or
rugby against a nation other than England. But, when the
question was put to Scots, only 48 per cent said they would
back England with 34 per cent supporting their opponents,
no matter which country it was.

There was good news for David Cameron, the Conservative
leader, when voters in England were asked who they would
back in a general election held tomorrow. The Tories were
on 37 per cent, with 31 per cent backing Labour and 23 per
cent supporting the Liberal Democrats.

David Cameron: 'The union is good for us all'

Mr Brown said: "There is a debate to be had about the
future of the United Kingdom. But I think when you look at
the arguments — at the family ties, the economic
connections, the shared values, the history of our
relationship which has lasted 300 years — people will
decide we are stronger together and weaker apart."

Mr Cameron said: "The union between England, Scotland and
Wales is good for us all and we are stronger together than
we are apart. The last thing we need is yet another
parliament with separate elections and more politicians
spending more money."

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem leader, called for a
"calm rational debate" on the role of MPs from Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Wales at Westminster. "The last thing
we need is knee-jerk opportunistic political responses."

Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, said: "In England, people
quite rightly resent Scottish Labour MPs bossing them about
on English domestic legislation. England has as much right
to self government as Scotland does."


Blog: And You Dear To Call Me A Terrorist

And you dear to call me a terrorist
-Michael Stone-

Role in Northern Ireland troubles

Stone was born and raised on the hardline loyalist Braniel
estate in east Belfast. He joined the loyalist group the
Tartans when he was 13. By the age of 16 he had already
been held in Belfast's Crumlin Road jail for possession of
firearms and membership of the Ulster Defence

Stone was most famous for the "Milltown Massacre" in 1988,
which took place at the predominantly Catholic Milltown
Cemetery in Belfast during the funeral of three members of
the terrorist organisation the Provisional Irish Republican
Army, who had been shot by the British Army in Gibraltar.
Stone later said he hatched the idea for Milltown after the
IRA bomb killed eleven people attending a Remembrance
Sunday service at the cenotaph in Enniskillen, County
Fermanagh in 1987. Intent on killing top republicans,
including Gerry Adams, Stone attacked the crowd with
grenades and a pistol. He killed three people, including
one member of the IRA, and injured sixty others. Stone was
eventually overpowered by mourners and would have been
beaten to death had he not been dragged to safety and
arrested by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary - he
still walks with a slight limp as a result of the
dislocated thigh bone he received in the aftermath of the
attack[2]. The attack and resultant mob incident was caught
on television cameras, and provided some of the most savage
images of the conflict.

Stone, who apparently objected to the newspapers' portrayal
of him as a mad Rambo-style gunman, also confessed to
shooting dead three other Catholics between 1984 and 1987.
He claimed the victims were linked to the IRA. At his trial
he pleaded not guilty, but refused to offer any defence.
Convicted of six murders, he was sentenced to life
imprisonment with sentences totaling 684 years[3], with a
recommendation he serve at least thirty years.

While behind bars Stone became the leader of the Ulster
Freedom Fighters and was among many prisoners in HM Prison
Maze to meet Mo Mowlam during the negotiations the
government held with paramilitaries from both sides during
peace negotiations in the mid-1990s, to get the loyalists
to come to the negotiation table[4]. He also collaborated
with Martin Dillon on a book about his life entitled Stone
Cold (ISBN 0-09-177410-1).


On 24 July 2000, Stone was released from prison under the
Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998 that ruled that those
convicted of terrorist crimes were to be set free. The
jubilant and triumphant scenes that fellow loyalists
greeted Stone with upon his release angered many Irish
Nationalists. Paramilitaries of both sides were often
treated as heroes upon their release and this always caused
offence and anger, particularly among the victims'

Stone had been living in East Belfast, London and Spain
with his girlfriend Suzanne Cooper [5]until the events of
24 November 2006. In 2001 Stone and Ms Cooper exchanged
bullet-proof jackets as Christmas gifts. He has nine
children from two previous marriages, and three grand

Since leaving prison Stone had concentrated on work in the
community and being an artist - a hobby he began in the
Maze. His paintings are vivid and not so much political as
topical. They fetch between a few hundred and a few
thousand pounds each. Stone published his autobiography
titled None Shall Divide Us, in which he claimed that he
had received "specialist assistance" from RUC operatives in
carrying out the cemetery killings[7]. A second book and
the auctioning of the jacket he wore at the Milltown
Cemetary at a Scottish loyalist club for £10,000 have
brought forward legislation to ban former convicted
paramilitaries released through the Northern Ireland Peace
Process from profiting from their crimes.

In March 2002, Stone and Cooper fled Ulster for France
following death threats from loyalists opposed to the Peace
Process. The terrorists' - believed to represent the Orange
Volunteers - ultimate aim was the eventual destruction of
the Good Friday Agreement and the end of Ulster's troubled
peace process[8]. Following time in Birmingham, Stone
returned to East Belfast.

Stone featured in the BBC2 television series Facing the
Truth mediated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu where he met
relatives of a victim of loyalist violence. Sylvia Hackett
talked with Stone, who was convicted of murdering her
husband Dermot, a Catholic delivery man. Although he
previously admitted to the murder, Stone told his victim's
widow that he had no direct responsibility, having been
withdrawn after planning the attack. At the end of their
meeting she forced herself to walk over to Stone and shake
his hand - when he placed a second hand on hers, she
recoiled and fled from the room[9].

In November 2006, he claimed that in the 1980s he had been
"three days" away from killing the then leader of the
Greater London Council and current Mayor of London, Ken
Livingstone, over his support for Sinn Fein's Gerry
Adams[10]. The plot was cancelled under fears that it had
been infiltrated by Special Branch detectives[11].

Stormont arrest

On November 24 2006 at about 11am, Stone was arrested for
breaking into the parliament buildings at Stormont armed
with an imitation Beretta 92FS pistol, a knife and a
"viable" bomb, after placing 8 "pipe bombs" within the
grounds of Stormont.[12] One male and one female civilian
security guard disarmed him as he entered the building, by
trapping him within the revolving doors of the main lobby
entrance. Following the scurity breach, the building was
evacuated and an Army Bomb Disposal Unit was called to
examine the suspect device. Before entering the building he
had scrawled an incomplete graffiti stating "Sinn Fein IRA
mur(derers) on the Parliament building.
Later examination from the bomb squad has revealed that the
bag that Stone was carrying contained between 6 and 8
viable explosive devices. Sir Hugh Orde, the Chief
Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said
"their potential for death, destruction and injury is being
assessed" but added they were "fairly amateurish".

The resumption of talks about power sharing and electing a
First Minister between the parties at Stormont, which had
only just resumed, had to be abandoned.[13]

As the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain)
indicated that Stone's licence for release under the "Good
Friday Agreement" would be revoked, and the full 638 year
sentence for triple murder, terrorist charges and firearm
charges be reimposed on him, in line with his sentencing in

Since being released in 1998, Stone has admitted to several
other acts of terrorism, including murder. The PSNI are
currently drawing a case for these to be put to the judge
in due course. On 25 November Michael Stone appeared in
court in Belfast charged with attempting to murder Sinn
Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Michael
Stone faced a total of five charges of attempted murder
following the incident at Stormont. He was also charged
with possession of articles for terrorist purposes,
posession of an imitation firearm, assault, grievous bodily
harm, posession of an offensive weapon and possession of
explosives. The court heard the articles allegedly for
terrorist purposes included nailbombs, an axe and a
garrotte. Michael Stone was remanded in custody until 22

And who is trying to interrupted the peace process


Blog: The South

The views of Northern Catholics of the South are at best
neutral and at worst hostile. It seems that to some extent
the South is seen as what the northerners want to join, to
become a part of. At the same time in unity, the South
actually ceases to exist. In the early years of the
Troubles, especially among the younger generations the
South is a symbol of hope and freedom, freedom not only
from British rule, but freedom from fear, stress, violence.
Over time, however, a more hostile view developes for many.
When the Catholics were being driven out of their homes in
Belfast and Derry, Lynch and the South stood idly by.
Little more than verbal condolences were offered. In the
early years many in the north resented the south for buying
their liberty with the slavery of the north, however, with
a rival in nationalism in the late 60's there had been a
sense of hope, a sense of change in the air. Quickly the
northerners would learn that the South wanted very little
do to with their problems, having their own to worry about.
Media on both sides of the border largely ignored news on
the otherside, and media in the south was censored and
consequently legally lost the ability to report everything
happening in the north. With the increasing use of violence
by the IRA, the south was further alienated from dealing
with the north. The northerner catholics increasingly had
different agendas than their counterparts on the south.
Even though both might have aspired to a united Ireland,
although the north far more so than the south, they had
drastically different visions of that united Ireland. The
south wanted an enlarged version of what they had. The
north wanted an entirely new united 32 county state. As the
south became more disillusioned by the violence in the
north, the north became more disillusioned about the
complacency of the south. Northern Catholics in many ways
felt that their southern neighbors were ignoring them in a
time of need. It is not suprising therefore that as the
agendas of these two communities diverged, that their
knowledge of one another decreased as well. A growing sense
of ignorance plagued the island. At the same time, along
the border, as is often the case, many almost did not
distinguish between north and south. So at once you had two
communities with different agendas and different concepts
of a united Ireland that were in some ways the same
community, and yet the South did not understand the North
and the North did not understand the South. This clearly
led to some sort of an identity crisis, but in a very
different way than the one experienced by unionists. It was
not so much that the Northern Catholics had trouble finding
a distinct identity, they clearly labeled themselves Irish,
but that they had a difficulty in reconciling their idea
and identity of Irishness with that which permeated the
South. The Northern Catholics seem to have very much wanted
to be part of the South, but a South which they resented
for abandoning and one which didnt truly exist. At the same
time the south wanted in theory to control the north, but
in reality it wanted almost nothing to do with it, and to
be honest they can't be blamed for this. Nobody wants to
bring conflict into their borders.

When the north becomes a part of the south, assuming that
the current population trends continue and a flare up in
violence doesnt change the current legality of the
situation, how are Northern Catholics going to reconcile
with the fact that the South isn't the South that they want
it to be?

How is the South going to deal with a North towards which
they feel ambivalency?

It is often argued that over time the two sides of the
island have grown apart since partition. What tangeable
evidence is there to support this claim?

Will the Northerner Catholic's ever forgive the South for
their complacency?

Is it not natural to want to avoid being dragged into

Had the UK not been as powerful, would the Irish Government
have intervened in 1969, or atleast have formulated a more
independent policy at a later date?

Would it be wrong to assume that while the Northern
Catholics have much in common with the Southern Irish, and
the Unionists much in common with the greater British
people, that in reality the people of Northern Ireland in
reality have far more in common with each other?

Can one even really define a communal identity? Aren't all
communal identities just loose generalizations of a group
of people? Yes an identity to some degree defines the
environment in which one is raised and influenced by, but
even this enviroment doesn't result in one uniform response
and perspective. My sister and I grew up in the same house,
and had largely the same education. We have radically
different political, economic, and religious views.

In the context of the EU is Irishness or Englishness or
even some hybrid form even relavant?

With globalization and mass advances in information
technology, along with cheap and fast travel, are these
vaguely defined communal identities not gradually breaking
down to be replaced by a global identity of progressive
humanity that while communal in a sense heavily emphasises
the individual identity? Why can't we be content with just
being individuals in a greater sea of humanity?

posted by oconnor at 3:34 PM


Blog: Views Of The IRA

‘I don’t want them to be the bad guys’


Northern Ireland’s Catholic Perspectives of the IRA

There is no unified view of the IRA amongst the Catholic
Community in Northern Ireland. The Catholic Community can
be broken down into three fluid groups.

I. Those who are unconditionally supportive of the IRA or
very close to it Consisting largely of IRA members or
supportive 2nd tier network

II. Those who are ambivalent towards the IRA

Consisting largely of the vast populace who support some
portion of IRA ideology and/or actions while questioning if
not condemning other portions

III. Those who unconditionally condemn the IRA and its

Consisting of some clergy, disillusioned, and moderates

To understand where certain individuals and groups in the
Catholic community fell/fall several things must be

v Historical interpretation

¨ Mythology
o Romanticizing of previous IRA campaigns even if somewhat
o Selective memory

¨ Family history
¨ Victimization of Catholics
¨ View of previous IRA campaigns as ineffective and

v Personal experience

¨ Harassed by Security Forces/ Loyalists
¨ Harassed by IRA, or affected by IRA violence
Community experience
¨ IRA Defense of community
¨ Solidarity
¨ Sectarian violence

v Influence of British policies
¨ Internment
¨ Curfews
¨ Establishment of a police state
¨ Failure to treat loyalist paramilitaries similarly to the
¨ Excessive use of violence
v Response to general IRA violence
¨ Supportive
¨ Complacent
¨ Opposed

v Response non-violent IRA campaigns
Blanket protest
¨ Dirty Protest
¨ Hunger Strike

v Development of views over time: many moderates became
radicals/ many radicals became moderates

posted by oconnor


Blog: Let's Slaughter The Fatted Calf For Prodigal Son Paisley

Was Ian Paisley sincere today when he said he would share
power with Sinn Féin as long as certain conditions relating
to policing were met or was the old dinosaur just bluffing.

For my money, he's up for going into government with his
life-long enemies and today's radio interview with Tommy
Gorman of RTÉ and his emotional St Andrew's "crossroads"
speech are both evidence of a willingness to lead his
people from their self-imposed wilderness.

"I will do my duty and I will do my best to serve all parts
of the population," Ian Paisley told RTÉ, adding that he

"a good rapport with people from all parts of the island
and we deserve better things". You can check out the whole
interview here.

One thing's for sure, the big lad has won himself a lot of
goodwill in the South just when the Taoiseach was giving
vent to his exasperation at Paisley's bungled speech in the
Assembly on Friday. Sinn Féin will have to move quickly to
show to the voting public North and South that it's as
capable as acting in tune with the times (and it's a full
12 years since the first ceasefire). Game on.

The effect of the internet will be felt first in small,
internet-savvy communites. One such community is the Irish
language populace. Two weeks ago, the Irish daily newspaper
Lá paid over €2000 for a job ad in the Irish Times and got
zero response. However, by circulating the same ad through
email groups and Irish language web groups, several people
came forward. For those of us in publishing, the challenge
is to meet that challenge head-on by having a better
network than anyone else, and since we're communicating
with our public every day, we should be able to do just

Finally, a friend tired of the car monopoly in Belfast
tells me he balked at being asked to fork out £26,200 for a
new Saab covertible from the biggest and only Saab dealer
in the North. Instead, he went on the web and contacted
Saabcity in London who sold him the same car (he checked
their inventory online) for £2,300 less. They delivered it
to Liverpool where he travelled for the day to meet his
niece and nephew and then drive home the new baby. I know,
I know I shouldn't worry about anyone who can splash out
£26,000 saving a few thousand pound but I'm still for
subverting the car monopoly in the North, under which a
handful of companies set prices and then refuse to
negotiate on them because they know the other car
dealerships in the North will stick to the high price.

posted by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir at 9:47 PM


New Purchase Offers Sent To Great Blasket Landowners

Anne Lucey

New offers from the State for the purchase of properties on
Great Blasket Island have been issued to owners.

A spokesman for the Office of Public Works (OPW) yesterday
said it was confident of reaching agreement before
Christmas on a contract of sale for the majority of private
holdings on the island.

Great Blasket Island was home to writers Peig Sayers, Tomás
Ó Criomhthain and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin.

The revised contract of sale has been sent to An Blascaod
Mór Teo, the company that owns 17 of the 25 holdings on the
island, and to a small number of other property owners who
expressed reservations about the terms of the initial
contract sent out earlier this year.

The revised offers are to be issued to all landowners on
the island.

It includes an increase in the offer of €68,000 to €90,000
per holding. OPW spokesman George Moir said there was also
"a new form of words" on the draft contract.

There is also an increase in the offer to An Blascaod Mór
Teo for its ferry landing rights. During the summer, An
Blascaod Mór Teo, which operates the Peig Sayers ferry out
of Dingle, employed bouncers on the island preventing
passengers from a rival ferry operator from visiting Great
Blasket, claiming they were trespassing.

Legal advice to Kerry County Council confirmed the
company's claim that there were no public rights of way on
Great Blasket.

Under a long-term management plan for the island, drawn up
by Kerry County Council under instruction from the then
minister for heritage Síle de Valera, the OPW plans to
conserve the writers' buildings, restrict visitor numbers,
build new piers, conserve wildlife and apply for Unesco
world heritage status.

However, these plans stalled after negotiations with An
Blascaod Mór Teo broke down during the summer.

Following agreement, it is expected the OPW will run a
tender process for a ferry service to the island which will
control visitor numbers.


Booming Belfast Puts Its Blasts In The Past

By Kim Murphy
Times Staff Writer
November 27, 2006

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND — The tour buses can barely
squeeze down the narrow streets in the neatly rebuilt
neighborhood once burned to the ground by a loyalist mob.
Visitors climb out and squint at the towering partition
that divides the fortified patios of Catholics from the
walled-off gardens of Protestants.

The Troubles Tours have become a big moneymaker in Belfast.
Why stop only at the renovated Grand Opera House when you
can get your picture taken next to the former fish shop on
Shankill Road where a Provisional Irish Republican Army
bomb killed 10 people in 1993? Or at the Europa, once known
as the most bombed hotel in Europe?

"We see massive potential here. And who better to deliver
those tours than the people who lived the conflict?" said
Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin, a guide for a group of former
republican prisoners who drive visitors through the old war
zones of West Belfast, now filled with tidy new brick
duplexes and corner cafes.

A decade ago, Northern Ireland was a dark model of the
sectarian violence pitting pro-British Protestant loyalists
against Roman Catholic republicans. Today, Belfast has
seized on its bleak heritage of rioting, bombings, mass
arrests and ethnic killings as a growth industry. Even as
its leaders missed a deadline to form a provincial
government, much of the British province has already
settled into the peace dividend.

This provincial capital is flush with new boutique hotels,
exhibition centers, fashionable restaurants and office
parks. The unemployment rate is the lowest and real estate
prices the fastest climbing in Britain.

It's not as though everything is rosy. The economic
recovery has been fueled, in part, by massive government
spending and foreign aid. And the war isn't a memory yet:
Loyalist paramilitaries, armed and funded by drug
trafficking and racketeering, still hold sway over some of
Belfast's poorest Protestant neighborhoods, and dissident
republicans have mounted a series of firebomb attacks in
recent months.

But these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Gradually, a place that once was synonymous with the
marketplace car bomb and the bullet-sprayed funeral has
come to be seen as a model for a world steeped in conflict.
Irish community leaders are invited to conflict-resolution
meetings in the Balkans, Spain, South Africa and the Gaza
Strip; this month, a senior government delegation from Iraq
arrived in Belfast for briefings on how the country can
move beyond cafe bombs and roaming death squads.

One of those exceptions occurred Friday, when a Protestant
militant armed with a gun and explosives was thwarted as he
tried to storm into a landmark meeting of the province's
parliament. At the meeting, the region's two most
intransigent adversaries — Sinn Fein, the political wing of
the IRA, and the Democratic Unionist Party — took tentative
steps to nominate the leaders of a new power-sharing

British and Irish leaders still expect to have the
government in place by the spring, despite DUP leader Ian
Paisley's refusal to take up the nomination until Sinn Fein
pledges its support of the provincial police.

"I was at a conference a few weeks ago, and I found myself
saying that I think we're on the verge of being able to
talk about a best-practice case of ethnic conflict
regulation in Northern Ireland. People would have laughed
me out of the room if I'd said that 10 years ago," said
Michael Kerr, a political historian at the London School of
Economics who specializes in ethnic conflict and power-

The factors that diverted Northern Ireland from street
riots and to Starbucks are global as well as local: the
arrival of a united Europe at Ireland's door; the
diminishing prominence of religion in everyday life; a
flood of Polish, Asian and African immigrants who often
couldn't distinguish between a unionist and a republican;
the World Trade Center attacks in the United States, which
took the romantic luster off armed resistance movements
such as the IRA.

"People have come to realize that some of the old, stagnant
arguments are no longer relevant. Armed conflict has
basically outlived its usefulness," said Liam Maskey, a
former prisoner who runs a business- and community-building
organization in North Belfast, a patchwork of segregated
housing estates where a quarter of the deaths during the
Troubles occurred.

"The businessmen have been in the fore of recognizing that,
but sadly some of our political leaders don't seem to have
grasped that yet," he said.

"I don't think it's up for discussion any longer. There is
a massive hunger for change."

Nowhere is the impulse for moving on stronger than in the
neighborhoods of West Belfast, where the integration of the
city center gives way to neighborhoods where Catholics and
Protestants still live separated by gates that can be
locked at the first sign of trouble.

Belfast landmarks

Mac Giolla Mhin takes visitors past the neighborhood park
memorializing the fallen and imprisoned of the IRA's D
Company, Belfast Brigade, on Catholic Falls Road.

Here is where the British army occupied the top three
floors of the Divis Tower apartments as an observation
post; there is where Bombay Street was burned to the ground
by a Protestant mob. Here is Sinn Fein headquarters, and
the famous mural of republican prisoner Bobby Sands as he
looked before his fatal hunger strike in 1981.

Mac Giolla Mhin stops the car, though, when he reaches what
is known as the "interface" gate to the loyalist Shankill
Road area. It is still under the dominion of Protestant
paramilitaries, though a cease-fire has been in place in
West Belfast for 12 years. From this point, his Protestant
counterpart picks up the tour.

"We're working on a project with a loyalist ex-prisoners
group to do joint tours on a daily basis, because I
personally don't want to go over there and talk about their
background, their history," Mac Giolla Mhin said.

Nor frankly, does he want to go "over there" at all.

"We work with them," he said. "But that's work. If I went
over into that area and had a pint with that guy? I might
not come out of it alive."

Much of the Northern Ireland economic miracle is built on

Although overall unemployment is down and land values are
skyrocketing, it is still largely the government that has
fueled the boom. One in three workers depends on state
paychecks, a phenomenon that is likely to become
unsustainable as Europe and the U.S. lose interest in
"solving" Northern Ireland and international aid slows to a

The huge boost in public spending helped create a Catholic
middle class for the first time. Catholic students
outnumber Protestants at the universities, in a major
shift, and it is difficult to tell which of the clientele
at central Belfast's chic new restaurants is Protestant and
which Catholic.

Common ground

Until now, there has been little work other than the civil
service. The historic shipyards that built ships such as
the Titanic have been idle for years; the factories that
once turned out Irish linen are silent.

The hardest hit by Northern Ireland's industrial decline
have been areas such as Shankill, where generations of
Protestants depended on factory and longshoreman jobs. Now,
Shankill men and women are standing in unemployment lines
with Catholic Falls Road residents, who, thanks to a
history of second-class citizenship, were never hired at
the factories.

For once, the two sides find themselves on a rare patch of
common ground.

Community organizations on both sides of the partition have
launched a joint employment service board focused on
attracting businesses to both areas, expanding
international trade for companies already there and
sponsoring training to ensure that residents get hired when
a new company moves in.

Geraldine McAteer, a longtime community activist with the
West Belfast Partnership, said she and others took to heart
the advice of former U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary
Charles Meissner.

"He says to me: 'I've come here several times. You always
tell me you have the same problems. You've got these young
people joyriding around, antisocial behavior, local
community destruction,' " McAteer recalled. "He told me,
'At the end of the day, business doesn't come here because
they feel sorry for you. They come in here to make money.

" 'You've got to start talking about your district as an
area ripe for development, lots of available land close to
airports, ports and city center. And your large, young
population is a huge, vibrant resource. And your unemployed
people are a labor pool ripe for retraining.'

"I never forgot that. And we began to reassess how we
presented ourselves."

Across the city, people started looking at how to turn old
problems into new business opportunities. And not just the
Troubles Tours.

Maskey, the former prisoner, recently launched a video-
conferencing business that enables those too nervous to
drive into a rival neighborhood to meet instead by video.

Property developer Barry Gilligan is turning the historic
Crumlin Road Courthouse, where a significant part of the
Belfast population went on trial at one time or another,
into a luxury hotel.

Then there's the Titanic, about which Belfast has been
conflicted since it sank in 1912.

"We never promoted the idea that Belfast built the Titanic
at all. We had this issue of, my goodness, this was a
tragedy. The ship sank. We built it. We didn't want anybody
to know it was built in Belfast," said Shirley McKay, head
of economic initiatives for the Belfast City Council.

But with time, not to mention the release of the 1997
movie, such reservations have gone largely over the bridge.

"We checked, and there were 64 Titanic museums in the
world, but not one in Belfast!" McKay said.

The city recently launched a redevelopment project across
the 185 acres of waterfront now known as the Titanic
Quarter, which is to include a science park, offices, homes
and leisure and retail facilities. The centerpiece will be
a world-class Titanic visitor attraction, set to open in
time for the centennial in 2012.

In late October, workers began demolition of the Maze
prison, the scene of the 1981 hunger strikes in which Sands
and nine others died. Authorities plan to build a $110-
million sports stadium, hotel, international conflict
transformation center and restaurants on the site.

For many who look at the booming economy of the Republic of
Ireland to the south, there is a sense that too much time
has been wasted.

"We're sitting 100 miles north of one of the most dynamic
economies in the world, and feeling that we've missed out
on that," said Gilligan, the hotel developer.

"It is time that we as a people collectively realize that
the war is over, and we've also got to realize that the
rest of the world does not owe us a living."


Easter Rising Tales Come To NKY

By Amanda Van Benschoten Community Recorder Staff Writer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - An historic Irish rebellion is coming to
Northern Kentucky in a unique way on Nov. 30.

Irish radio personality and author Maurice O'Keeffe will
present photographs and stories at Thomas More College from
the 1916 rebellion, also known as the "Easter Rising."

He has traveled throughout Ireland, collecting accounts
from people who lived through the rebellion and their

His presentation will be "as close to firsthand as you can
get," said Leslie Huggard, treasurer of the Cincinnati
chapter of the Irish American Cultural Institute (IACI).

Similar to the American Revolutionary War, the rebellion
set the stage for Ireland's independence from Great

"It was a very, very major turning point in Irish relations
with Great Britain. Militarily, it was a failure, but it
set into train events that would lead to our independence a
few years later," said Huggard, who is Irish.

One of the those events was the execution of Irish
rebellion leaders by the British.

"It was their martyrdom that really got the Irish going,"
he said.

The war for independence ended with a tentative truce in
1921, but was followed by a bloody civil war. Peace and
official independence came in 1923.

The lecture is one of the final events in the 10th annual
Tapestry of Irish History and Culture, sponsored by TMC and
the Fenians of Northern Kentucky.

Fenians President Tom McGovern said the Tapestry isn't just
for Irish-Americans.

"Many times there are people who come to these events who
have not been to Ireland," he said. "It's an opportunity to
become more familiar with the history and culture of

O'Keeffe's lecture begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30 at
TMC's Science Lecture Hall. It is co-sponsored by the IACI
and the Fenians. Admission is $7. Call 344-3310 for
information and reservations.

The last event in the 2006 Tapestry is the play "The Irish
and How They Got That Way" by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer
Frank McCourt. It is at TMC's theater on Dec. 8 and 9 at
7:30 p.m. Admission is $10.

Visit for more information.


Conflict -- N. Ireland's Sectarian Tattoos Fade

Both Catholics and Protestants in Belfast have often worn
their loyalties on their flesh. But SHEILA FLYNN found most
young people steering clear of conflict-inspired tattoos.

Published Wednesday, November 22, 2006


BELFAST, Northern Ireland _ If you're headed to a bar in
Belfast, dress carefully.

If you have any visible tattoos, you might not bother going
at all.

The bombings and random sectarian killings in this city
have all but disappeared, but the deep-seated anger between
Protestant and Catholic communities, divided over whether
to remain under British rule or unite with Ireland,
continue to influence young people's everyday lives -- down
to the bouncer policies in bars and clubs.

Hoping to thwart any alcohol-fueled sectarian fights, most
establishments in the city center enforce a blanket ban on
visible tattoos -- from Irish and British flags to
nonpolitical symbols like Japanese characters.

"Just because of sectarian tattoos, bits and pieces ...
people have tattoos that would offend other people," said
Mark Hassan, manager of The Potthouse. "It's hard to
distinguish one from the other, so we just put a ban on all
tattoos. It stops people from being insulted."

A Protestant, or Loyalist, tattoo might include a logo of
the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force -- the UVF.
Examples of Catholic, or Nationalist, tattoos include
pledges of support for the Irish Republican Army -- the IRA
-- or portraits of hunger strikers who died behind bars in
1981 during a campaign to be treated as British-held
political prisoners.

Many bouncers extend their policies beyond tattoos, even
carefully eyeing patrons' clothing. Ivan Mulligan, a 27-
year-old pharmacist from the Republic of Ireland, was
recently stunned while visiting his brother in Belfast when
a doorman refused him entry because his shirt said

"He was going, 'Well, you never know. It may cause problems
at times here, the fact that Brazil would be known as a
Catholic country,'" Mulligan said. "That was the rules,
because just sometimes you can't predict how some of the
more extremist side will react to seeing something like


Judging from the body art, the number of young people
ascribing to extremist ideals may be dropping.

According to Belfast tattooists, sectarian symbols are out
of vogue, with young customers more interested in anything
from Tupac portraits to tribal designs.

"Young kids aren't as influenced by it anymore," Spud
Murphy, owner of Point Blank Tattoos in a Catholic section
of Belfast, said of the political situation. "They're
looking on the Internet, and they're seeing other things."

He said only a handful of customers in the past two and a
half years have come looking for political emblazonments,
and they were all middle-aged. Murphy doesn't display any
examples of sectarian tattoos on the studio walls or in
design books because they're not popular enough.

Younger people have had enough with violence and confining
hard-line ideas, Murphy said.

"People are sort of realizing that they're not staying in
their own communities anymore," he said. "They realize
they're going to be snookered in the future" with symbols
of hate inked onto their bodies.

Noel Large, an activist in the Protestant community who
sports sectarian tattoos himself, said he sees a similar
trend among the young people in Loyalist areas.

"I would say there's less paramilitary tattoos now than
ever among the younger generation," said Large, who is
heavily involved with Interaction Belfast, a group that
promotes cross-community initiatives to facilitate greater
understanding. "I believe young people are not as
interested in the politics of the paramilitaries as they
would have been 20 or 30 years ago. It's not as potent as
it used to be."

He said he does still see a small number of teenagers and
young adults with sectarian-leaning tattoos, such as
Loyalist song lyrics. And when I visited the tattoo shop on
notoriously hard-line Shankill Road, I was promptly refused
comment and ordered out -- though not before spotting
Loyalist tattoos on the walls and decorative Nazi flags.

Large said that could be explained by differences between
Loyalist and Nationalist communities.

"I would say Loyalism traditionally would be more into
tattoos than Republicans," he said.

Yet Jackie McMurty, whose family owns The Ink Castle tattoo
shop at the bottom of Shankill Road, still echoed the
general impressions of Murphy and Large, explaining that
young people looking for sectarian tattoos only come in
"once in a blue moon."

The Ink Castle draws customers from Protestant and Catholic
communities, and McMurty said the same trend runs through
both sides: "They don't get something political, they get
something fashionable."


While sectarian tattoos may be dying -- something all sides
view as hopeful -- activists and residents still concede
that policies such as visible tattoo bans will remain in
place for years to come.

Large pointed out that the hard-line areas are generally
the neighborhoods still plagued by high unemployment,
poverty and inadequate education. Despite strides being
made in the peace process, those conditions produce
disillusioned young people easily won over by extremism,
and Large said lawmakers need to address those conditions
to fix the problem.

"They're not being shot dead, but the quality of life
hasn't changed," he said. "The peace process hasn't done a
whole lot for them.

"It's not just about funding; it's about investing a bit of
time into them. Until they start doing that, the
paramilitary groups would still have great potential for
recruits because the young people have nothing to look
forward to."

Large also noted that the hostilities between the two sides
have been around for a long time, having been passed down
through generations.

"It will always be there," he said. "Hopefully it will not
go on forever."

Mulligan, the pharmacist who was stopped by a bouncer
because of his "Brazil" shirt, acknowledges that efforts to
keep the lingering hostilities in check -- including
restrictive door policies -- are still needed.

"In fairness, if it's going to reduce any problems that
they might have, then fair enough," Mulligan said. "If it
does reduce trouble and violence, then it can't be bad."


Here's some additional background information in the
lingering conflict in Northern Ireland.


Protestants, or Loyalists, are the majority group who took
control of Northern Ireland's six counties after a 1921
treaty gave the Republic of Ireland freedom but kept the
North under British control.

Catholics, or Nationalists, are the minority group who
believe Northern Ireland should be reunited with the
Republic of Ireland's 26 counties. They were discriminated
against for decades under the North's Protestant-controlled
government and waged a battle for civil rights.


Both Protestants and Catholics formed paramilitary groups
to fight for their respective goals. The communities each
boast stronghold neighborhoods that are decorated with
political and paramilitary murals. Sectarian killings and
bombings were particularly bad from the '60s to the '80s;
nearly 3,700 people have died since 1969.

Multiparty talks and cease-fires began taking hold in the
mid-1990s and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 established
a power-sharing government, largely reducing violence --
even after the coalition's subsequent collapse over
scandals and disagreements.


The IRA has surrendered its weapons and called off its
campaign to overthrow Northern Ireland's government. Talks
are under way to revive power-sharing. The latest in a
series of deadlines comes Nov. 24, when leaders from rival
parties are due to be appointed first minister and deputy
first minister.

Freelance writer Sheila Flynn is a former reporter for the


Monday, November 27, 2006

Blog: Reading In The Dark

Dean, Seamus. Reading in the Dark. Vintage, 1998.

Deane presents Reading in the Dark as a “novel” and I am
unclear as to how much is fact and how much is fiction.
Much of what he wrote about the dynamic of the Irish family
situation rings very true in my own reality. Irish families
are a topic close to my heart. His discussion of the things
left unsaid in Irish family life rings true and is echoed
in many other books about Irish and Irish-American culture,
ranging from Alice Carey’s I’ll Know it When I See it, to
Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, to Tom Hayden’s Irish on
the Inside. Much of what he writes about the continuing
violence, prejudice and trouble in Northern Ireland is
factual—even if his characters are fictitious. And I don’t
know that they are.

Dean presents a compelling look at life in embattled
Northern Ireland. He presents to the reader an intimate
portrait of an Irish-Catholic family. He offers the
superstitions surrounding this family. He allows the reader
to accept that a ghost can be a spirit or a memory—that
both are haunting and can be frightening enough to
devastate lives.

The story is presented in a first person child’s view,
albeit it an omniscient view. Dean walks us through the
confusion of growing up an outcast in his community—which
is itself outcast from the society in which it is enmeshed.
We, as readers, are presented with several different
perspectives of the outsider. Dean’s mother keeps herself
just beyond the intimacy of her family, specifically her
husband and sister, by keeping her secrets. Secrets that
eventually drive her insane. Her husband, Dean’s father,
remains outside because of what he does not know, as well
as what he does. Each of the children in this family is
left on the outside because none of them knows the whole

For Irish-Americans (like Dean) reaching back to untangle
the things unsaid can be a healing process. To write about
it offers others a door into the silences in their own
families. I have read many books about Irish and Irish-
American families and the recurring theme the prevailing
silence—and how families function, or don’t, around that.
Dean’s direct insertion of the larger socio-political
picture into the dynamic speaks more directly to the issue
and perhaps can offer, at least for Dean, a way to find
definition to who he is—and why.

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Desmond Tutu gets around. Us South Africans owe Ireland, with all the building they do in South Africa.
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