News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

December 02, 2006

Collusion Inquiry Need To Protect Sovereignty

News About Ireland & The Irish

SB 12/03/06 Collusion Inquiry Needed To Protect Sovereignty
O 12/03/06 Time To Call A Truce
UT 12/02/06 Empey: 'DUP Split Is Bad For Unionism'
SB 12/02/06 Eamonn Dornan’s Firm To Defend Makers Of Borat
GU 12/03/06 Stone Made Plans Before Attack On Stormont
GU 12/03/06 Sinn Fein Urged To Aid McCartney Inquiry
GU 12/03/06 Radio: Troubles In Paradise
TO 12/03/06 Witnesses To IRA Murder Intimidated
SB 12/03/06 Opin: Caught Between Two Powers
TO 12/03/06 Opin: A Danger SF Could Share Power In Republic
SB 12/03/06 The Facts Behind Gaidar ‘Poisoning’
IT 12/03/06 Book: Chronology Of A Conflict


Collusion Inquiry 'Needed To Protect Sovereignty'

03 December 2006 By Colm Heatley

The government needs to hold a public inquiry to ‘‘protect
Irish sovereignty’’, according to one of the authors of
last week’s Oireachtas committee report into British
collusion in bombings in the Republic in the 1970s.

The report found significant and ‘‘disturbing’’ evidence of
British government collusion in the Dublin airport bomb in
1975, the Kays Tavern bomb in Dundalk in 1975 and a bombing
in Castleblayney in Monaghan in 1976.

It said collusion took place in the Miami Showband massacre
in August 1975, in which five people, including three
members of the showband - Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and
Brian McCoy - were killed.

Independent TD Finian McGrath, a member of the committee,
said that debating its findings in the Dail and Seanad was
‘‘nowhere near enough’’.

‘‘This report and its findings need to be the subject of a
full public inquiry into the British government’s role in
killing Irish citizens in cold blood,” said McGrath.

‘‘What we have found amounts to international terrorism
perpetrated on Ireland.

“It is a scandal and successive Irish governments have done
nothing to examine it down the years. We need a public
inquiry to get the truth for the victims and to protect our
own sovereignty as a nation.”

Last Thursday, relatives of the victims of the Miami
Showband massacre met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to discuss the
implications of the report.

Afterwards, Steven Travers, one of the survivors of the
attack, said he did not need a public inquiry to tell him
‘‘that the British army was involved’’.

He recounted how the fake military patrol which stopped him
was friendly at first, and then opened fire on the band
members as they stood by the side of the road.

Travers was left for dead, but managed to survive, despite
being shot with dumdum bullets.

One of the men suspected of masterminding the massacre,
Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, was caught in possession of
four shotguns in a field near Banbridge just seven weeks
before the attack.

However, Jackson was not charged with any offence so, was
at liberty when the attack took place.

In the past, Fred Holroyd, a former British Army
intelligence officer, has told how, just a few weeks before
the attack, a former senior RUC Special Branch member asked
him to provide British Army uniforms for a UVF gang based
near where the massacre took place.


Time To Call A Truce

The timing of its publication is unfortunate; the
implications of its findings are disturbing. Nevertheless,
the British government cannot ignore last week’s report
from an Irish parliamentary committee that found evidence
of widespread collusion between elements within the British
security forces and loyalist terrorists.

It was a conspiracy that resulted in the death of a large
number of civilians in a series of gun and bomb attacks on
both sides of the border during the mid-1970s.

As the delicate manoeuvring towards a lasting power-sharing
settlement in Northern Ireland enters an especially tense
phase, this report reopens deep wounds from the bloody
conflict that raged for 30 years. Confronting the report’s
conclusions at this sensitive time could damage the peace
process. Yet a refusal to confront its conclusions could
cause equal harm.

What is essential, therefore, is that Tony Blair’s
government delivers a prompt, measured response that
acknowledges the wrong done by some British agents, but
does not compound the mess by pretending rogue security
elements were the only combatants to have committed
atrocities in this dirty war.

Inevitably the publication of the report has been greeted
by the relatives of victims — as well as others promoting a
more opportunistic political agenda, such as Sinn Fein —
with calls for a full public inquiry. However, it is
doubtful yet another inquiry would shed any new light on
the murky world of terrorism and counterterrorism during
Ulster’s most violent period.

During the Troubles, the British state was challenged by a
ruthless guerrilla army in the shape of the Provisional
IRA, one that had no compunction about the sectarian
slaughter of civilians. As hostilities intensified and the
carnage mounted, the battle was joined by equally ruthless
groups of loyalist terrorists working in tandem with
renegade members of the security forces.

It quickly became a war replete with agents and double-
agents, touts and sleepers, mercenaries and madmen in
which, particularly towards the end, it was difficult to
work out who was fighting whom. The events examined by the
Oireachtas committee’s report are a small sample of the
outrages perpetrated during the Troubles.

The committee, chaired by the Fianna Fail TD Sean Ardagh,
held hearings into nine atrocities on both sides of the
border between 1972 and 1976 in which 18 people were
killed. The incidents included the bombing of pubs in
Dundalk and Castleblayney, the murder of three members of
the Reavey family in Markethill, Co Armagh, and the
shooting of three members of the Miami Showband near Newry
in 1975.

It found that collusion inspired most, if not all, of the
attacks, revealing evidence of intelligence sharing between
members of the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment and
outlawed loyalist terror groups such as the Ulster
Volunteer Force.

Little of this is new. It follows earlier investigations
into these attacks by a former supreme court judge, Henry
Barron. The report’s central findings are also likely to be
confirmed by the senior counsel Patrick McEntee’s inquiry
into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

With the pattern of collusion well established by these and
other inquiries, it’s time to draw a line under this
squalid affair. Bertie Ahern should use his close working
relationship with Mr Blair to encourage the prime minister
to formulate a credible response that offers some degree of
closure for victims’ families, while recognising the
changes in attitudes on all sides.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the officers and
agents involved in collusion were far from representative
of the British security forces. Many courageous men and
women risked and, in many cases, gave their lives to
protect citizens from the actions of homicidal extremists.
For their fate there have been no expressions of remorse.


Empey: 'DUP Split Is Bad For Unionism'

The Democratic Unionist Party is split over support for the
St Andrew's Agreement, the leader of the Ulster Unionists
has claimed.

By:Press Association

But Sir Reg Empey insisted the divisions would not be good
for the future of unionism.

The Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP held a private day-long meeting
at a hotel near Belfast yesterday to try to agree a united
line for the way forward.

Afterwards party members insisted there was widespread
agreement among MPs, MLAs and their single MEP.

But in an interview with the BBC, Sir Reg Empey said
evidence of division within the rival unionists was

"It`s clear there are divisions there," he said.

"We understand it, everyone knows it and it`s not
surprising because they have launched on a policy for which
they have no mandate and which is against everything they
stood for for the last 40 years."

Sir Reg accepted that there was a case of history repeating
itself after the UUP itself suffered deep divisions when
former leader David Trimble agreed to share power with Sinn
Fein before decommissioning had taken place.

But he said: "Some of my colleagues and people will say
it`s happy days for you guys in the Ulster Unionist Party
seeing your biggest critics in the same position as you
once were.

"But I have to say, if you look at the wider unionist
position there are very great dangers out there for
unionism generally and I don`t think it is actually going
to help if they [DUP] follow down the road and do become so
split up that they do become incoherent."

Sir Reg insisted: "There`s bigger issues here. People want
to get this nonsense settled, we want to move on to really
being able to deliver real policies for the community from
the Assembly."

After yesterday`s DUP meeting the party said it had been
constructive, held in good spirits and displaying
widespread agreement.

Outstanding issues would be discussed with Prime Minister
Tony Blair in Downing Street next Tuesday, they said.

But Sir Reg accused the DUP of ending up with a greener
version of the Good Friday Agreement following the
negotiations at St Andrews.


Irish-American Law Firm To Defend Makers Of Borat

03 December 2006 By Niall Stanage

An Irish-American law firm retained as production counsel
for hit movie Borat is expected to defend the film’s makers
against a $30 million legal suit filed by two Romanian

They claim they were lured into appearing in the film under
false pretences.

The Manhattan firm of Smith Dornan Dehn came to prominence
when it was retained by Sean McPhilemy, the author of The
Committee, a contentious book about loyalist violence in
the North to defend him against libel claims. More
recently, it has represented former INLA member Malachy
McAllister in his fight to avoid deportation from the US.

Now the company – whose principals include Co Down-born
attorney Eamonn Dornan and one-time Co Donegal resident
Russell Smith – will turn its attention to Borat. Two men
from the Romanian village of Glod are seeking an injunction
preventing further screenings of the movie and punitive

In a suit filed in New York on November 20, Nicolae
Todorache and Spiridon Ciorebea claimed that they were led
to believe they were participating in a documentary about
extreme poverty in Romania. In fact, they ended up playing
the roles of natives of a primitive village in Kazakhstan
in the movie. Todorache is shown wearing what appears to be
a sex toy as a prosthetic limb.

Borat is a spoof movie following the adventures of a
fictional Kazakh journalist as he makes his way across the
US. The lead character, Borat Sagdiyev, is played by his
creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian who rose
to fame as Ali G.

Cohen is named as a conspirator in the villagers’ suit,
which lists 20th Century Fox, a host of other film
production companies, and several other individuals,
including director Larry Charles, as defendants.

The grounds for the action are listed as discrimination (on
the grounds that the villagers are Roma, or gypsies),
conspiracy to violate rights, fraud, misrepresentation and
breach of oral or implied contract.

‘‘The movie Borat was intended to hold the plaintiffs
Todorache and Ciorebea, the other villagers and their
people up to ridicule and humiliation,” the suit alleges.

The company is expected to deny all such allegations. A
source close to the movie’s production described the events
surrounding filming in a way that contrasted with the
plaintiffs’ claims.

The source told The Sunday Business Post that all the
villagers who appeared in the movie were hired as extras
and paid standard rates or higher. The source added that
the movie’s nature was obvious to everyone since it
included ‘‘blatantly ridiculous scenes like one of a cow
inside someone’s house’’.

The suggestion of exploitation has also been rejected by
those involved with the production. They claim that, after
filming was complete, the film’s producers and Baron Cohen
made a $10,000 donation to the local village school to buy
computers and other educational equipment.

Adding a further twist to the affair, Edward Fagan, the
villagers’ attorney, has himself been the subject of

He rose from obscurity in the late 1990s, leading legal
actions on behalf of Holocaust survivors seeking
reparations from Swiss and German businesses.

The claims were mostly settled, and Fagan received millions
of dollars in legal fees. But a New York Times report in
2000 noted that Fagan ‘‘left neglected personal injury
clients in his wake, abandoning their claims or not
returning their phone calls for years’’.

The makers of Borat are also being sued by two American
students who appear in the film, and other legal suits may
be pending.

The controversies have not dented the movie’s runaway
success. Its US box office receipts topped $100 million ten
days ago.

Global box office takings are believed to be more than
double that total, suggesting that Borat could become the
biggest-grossing comedy of all time.


Stone Made Careful Plans Before Attack On Stormont

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 3, 2006
The Observer

Evidence has emerged this weekend that reveals the extent
of the planning loyalist murderer Michael Stone put into
his attack on Stormont last month.

The Observer has seen a note Stone sent to several
photographers, with a picture of himself and former Ulster
Defence Association chief Andy Tyrie a fortnight before his
botched attack. The photograph, taken in 2000 just after he
was freed from the Maze, was posted two weeks ago. In a
note attached, the UDA assassin wrote: 'PS A few snaps for
your files as I may be away back to the cells for a while.'
Stone is currently on remand facing charges for trying to
kill Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in the Stormont

Detectives have told The Observer that Stone, 51, met
members of the rebel UDA south-east Antrim Brigade on 22
November and asked them for a gun. He held talks with UDA
commanders alienated from the organisation at a bar in
Carrickfergus, but his request was refused. 'Stone asked
for a real weapon but he was told no. The UDA didn't want
to know,' said one source.

The Observer can also reveal that Stone took a taxi to
Stormont on 24 November and avoided security inside the
estate by using a long route away from the main road up to
the parliament building. The pathway is often used by
senior PSNI commanders as a jogging route.

Stone, who has recently made a string of confessions to
crimes his UDA comrades claim he never committed, stated
recently that he believes he is going back to jail. Prior
to his televised assault on the Northern Ireland Assembly
building he was under PSNI investigation. The Observer has
learnt that Stone was to have been arrested within days of
his Stormont sortie.

In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, dated 24 November,
Stone confessed that he intended to assassinate Adams and
McGuinness at Stormont. He described himself as a
'freelance, dissident loyalist paramilitary' and declared:
'On receiving this correspondence, I... will be in one of
two positions. One I will be in custody... [or] two, that I
am deceased.'


Sinn Fein Urged To Aid McCartney Inquiry

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 3, 2006
The Observer

Allowing Republicans to give evidence to detectives that
will convict Robert McCartney's killers should be Sinn
Fein's litmus test on policing, his sisters said last

In a statement to The Observer, Catherine McCartney said
the party must instruct its members who witnessed the fatal
assault on their brother to finally speak to the PSNI about
the killing. 'That is the only way that Sinn Fein can prove
they have genuinely changed their stance on policing,' she

Robert McCartney was savagely beaten before being stabbed
repeatedly, following an attack by alleged IRA members in
Magennis's Bar in central Belfast nearly two years ago.

His sisters launched a worldwide campaign to bring his
killers to justice. They claimed the local IRA took part in
and then covered up the murder of their brother and the
attempted murder of the friend he died defending, Brendan
Devine. Seventy-two people, including several members of
Sinn Fein, were in the bar when the attack took place on 30
January 2005. Only one man has been charged in connection
with Robert's death.

'We would see what happens about Robert's case as a litmus
test for Sinn Fein,' said McCartney. 'There is no point
signing up to policing as part of the St Andrews Agreement,
sitting on the policing board but doing nothing to
encourage your own members to co-operate with the police,
especially in a murder investigation.

'After the murder the IRA destroyed all the forensic
evidence. They wiped down the bar and got rid of all the
knives and weapons that had been used in the attack. They
told everyone to shut their mouths.

'The police have told us repeatedly that the only real
evidence available is eye-witnesses and they have been few
and far between. If the Sinn Fein leadership now allows its
members to come forward and give evidence, then it will
remove any question marks over Sinn Fein's commitment to

Policing remains the key issue dominating the Northern
Ireland peace process. Ian Paisley and his Democratic
Unionist Party will not share power with Sinn Fein in a
restored devolved government until republicans pledge an
oath supporting the PSNI and the rule of law. Sinn Fein
cannot do so until the party holds a special delegate
conference to ratify its support for new policing
structures in Northern Ireland. Irish government sources
last night admitted that their British counterparts might
cancel Northern Ireland Assembly elections scheduled for
early March if it becomes clear Sinn Fein is unable to
stage its conference on policing before then.

Later this week Paisley and DUP North Belfast MP Nigel
Dodds will hold talks in Downing Street with the Prime
Minister. Dodds's presence on the delegation is significant
because he is known to be a deal sceptic and has publicly
stated that he did not envisage policing powers being
devolved to an assembly in his lifetime. Transferring
policing and judicial powers from London to Belfast has
been a key Sinn Fein demand in the negotiations.


Radio: Troubles In Paradise

A priest defends the seemingly indefensible on Radio 4,
says Miranda Sawyer

Sunday December 3, 2006
The Observer

The Clonard Priest

The Clonard priest described its subject, Father Alec Reid,
as 'a man of some controversy'. To some Northern Irish
Protestants, this is a euphemism akin to calling Gerry
Adams 'a very good Catholic'. And later, in this short
sharp shock of a programme, Father Reid did exactly that.
He immediately topped it by informing us that Adams 'wasn't
a warmonger or anything. He was very intelligent and very

Olivia O'Leary, usually a sopping wet hanky of a radio
interviewer, was moved to anger. 'How can you say that
about the IRA?' she cried. 'Things like the Kingsmills
murders where they took out 10 Protestant workers and shot
them? That was murder!' 'If you look at it from their point
of view...' said Reid. 'But I don't!' cried O'Leary, the
first time I have ever heard her raise her voice.

Still, Father Reid's tactic - looking at things from the
IRA's point of view - proved to be the right one. He was
the chosen gopher between Sinn Fein and John Hume's SDLP,
passing documents between sworn enemies until, eventually,
the peace process went overground. Before that happened, he
was forced to give the last rites to many innocent victims,
including, in 1988, two soldiers caught up in an IRA
funeral, who were dragged from their car and shot. His
stories were horrific - you could hear Olivia balk - though
he himself remained unmoved. 'Maybe it's some defect
personally,' he mused, 'that you don't get more emotionally
involved. There's always something else. You just go from
one thing to another.' Now 74, he's working with the Basque
separatists ETA in northern Spain. And we moved on to
Agatha Raisin. Such is the way of Radio 4: it sneaks its
bombshells out between Woman's Hour and MC Beaton.

A spot of light relief was called for, and luckily, 6Music
had it in spades this week with its informative and
hilarious five-day celebration of all things synthy. There
was a fabulously spoddy four-part documentary on the
history of electronica (histronica?), The Great Bleep
Forward, presented by 6Music treasure Andrew Collins; and
in Back to the Future, guided by OMD's curiously bored-
sounding Andy McCluskey, listeners voted for their top 10
synth riffs of all time. Though, because the listeners got
their top 10 a bit wrong, McCluskey was initially forced to
play them what they should have voted for, namely Joy
Division and, erm, OMD.

Still, it made for a fantastically cheery show, listening
to daft tracks like Kraftwerk's 'The Model' and Gary Numan
and Tubeway Army's 'Are "Friends" Electric' (Numan
appeared, like a radiophonic ghost, or an oddball that got
past security, on Phill Jupitus's Breakfast Show). It does
seem amazing that Naked Lunch's 'La Femme' was once the
scary sound of things to come. 'La Femme', if you don't
remember, was 'sadomasochistic' and had a habit of 'wearing
bright-red surreal lipstick'. Though how you make lipstick
surreal, I don't know. Maybe she wore it on her ears.


Witnesses To IRA Murder ‘Intimidated’ Into Silence

Enda Leahy

SEVERAL people who witnessed the IRA murder of two RUC
officers in 1989 have refused to give evidence to a private
inquiry, allegedly because of intimidation.

A source close to the tribunal said that at least four
eyewitnesses to the killings are not co-operating. They
were taken from their cars at an IRA checkpoint and forced
to lie down at the side of the road while the RUC officers
were shot.

“Four or five of them have refused to speak to the
inquiry,” said the source. “They have been identified and
approached, but it looks like they won’t give evidence. It
seems there has been intimidation.”

Judge Peter Smithwick has been appointed by the Oireachtas
to investigate allegations that gardai colluded in the
murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and
Superintendent Bob Buchanan. They were the two most senior
RUC officers to die during the Troubles.

Smithwick has identified up to 300 witnesses who will be
asked to attend public hearings expected to last six months
next year. Some of the witnesses appear to have been
approached by either the IRA or British authorities in an
attempt to prevent or control their evidence.

Some 30 witnesses are expected to testify about claims that
the IRA tapped the telephone of a Dundalk garda station. It
is a claim sources say is looking increasingly

Breen and Buchanan were shot dead on March 20, 1989, at an
IRA checkpoint in south Armagh. They were returning from a
meeting in Dundalk garda station. They had asked for garda
co-operation in an operation against Thomas “Slab” Murphy,
the IRA chief of staff. It has been claimed at least one
garda informer told the IRA about the meeting three days

Breen, who was recently accused by a former RUC colleague
of having colluded with loyalist terrorist groups, was the
RUC commander for Armagh and Down. Buchanan was responsible
for liaison between the RUC and the gardai.

Willie Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, a
group that investigates IRA murders, said Sinn Fein should
encourage witnesses to attend. “Here’s a chance to give
some credibility to their claims on policing,” he said.

Frazer, who has already given evidence, claims former
police officers have been told to speak to the Northern
Ireland Office before they respond to Smithwick.

“No threats have been made, but the Official Secrets Act is
being mentioned,” he said. “Why is the NIO worried?”

A tribunal source said there is concern that former RUC and
British army officers could face prosecution under the
Official Secrets Act. “Anyone who gives evidence to the
tribunal south of the border does not face prosecution
arising from their evidence, but that does not apply in
Britain,” the source said. “And the tribunal has no powers
to compel witnesses outside the jurisdiction to appear.”

The British government has given no guarantee that former
employees will not be prosecuted if they speak to
Smithwick. Kevin Fulton, a former British spy in the IRA,
has claimed that a garda tipped off the IRA about the RUC
officers’ trip south.

Eoin Corrigan, a former Special Branch sergeant in Dundalk,
was named under privilege in the House of Commons by
Jeffrey Donaldson, a Democratic Unionist party MP, as the
garda whose tip-off led to the killings. Corrigan has
denied the claim.

Freddie Scappaticci, the former head of the IRA’s internal
investigations unit, is also due to be called. Frazer has
claimed Scappaticci was in contact with a Dundalk garda
informer who destroyed evidence on IRA suspects and
facilitated lengthy interrogations in the border area.

“One of the main men was in the IRA nutting squad, another
is a garda, and you’re dealing with Slab Murphy and his
men,” said Frazer. “Heaven only knows who or what else is


Opin: Caught Between Two Powers

03 December 2006 By David McWilliams

The dollar appears eventually to be going the way every
economist has been predicting for the past ten years:
downwards. How far it will go is anyone’s guess, but it
will have ramifications. What does it mean for us, the most
American-dependent country in Europe? And what does it mean
for global economic relations?

An interesting way to view the global economy of the future
- the theatre where we, the Irish, will have to perform -
is to see the relationship between the world’s economic
power blocs through the medium of geology. The earth’s
rigid outer shell, the lithosphere, is broken up into an
extraordinary mosaic of oceanic and continental plates.
Just underneath is another layer: a more fluid, plasticky
surface, called the aesthenosphere. This is the uppermost
layer of the earth’s boiling core, which bubbles away

When the pressure in the bowels of the earth gets too
intense, the core bubbles and, occasionally, where the
lithosphere is thin or cracked, explodes into violent

More typically, the plates are in constant slow motion,
sliding glacially and peacefully over the liquidy

Where the plates interact and nudge against each other,
important geological shifts take place, such as the
formation of mountain belts, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Probably the best known margin is the San Andreas fault in
California. The fault line is about 1,300 km long and, in
places, tens of kilometres wide. Along it, the Pacific
plate has been grinding horizontally past the North
American plate for ten million years at an average rate of
about 5 cm per year (about the same speed as your
fingernails grow).

There are about ten other main fault lines across the
globe, so earthquakes - both on land and under the sea -
are relatively easy to locate, but predicting precisely
when they will happen is almost impossible, as we saw with
the Asian tsunami of December 2004.

Ireland could be regarded as living on the economic and
political equivalent of the San Andreas fault, where the
huge continental plates of the US and Europe grind against
each other. When the world’s financial lithosphere is calm,
we prosper in what economic geologists might term a false
sense of security. When the giants move in opposite
directions, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable position.
We are consistently compromising, altering, adjusting and

This constant juggling has had an impact on us, our
political system, our expectations and national philosophy.
This ‘Ameropean’ geopolitical stance is evident in the chat
before elections.

Next year, for example, Irish politicians, commentators and
the electorate in general will display a split personality
in claiming that we can deliver the tax system of Texas and
have the social-welfare system of Sweden. Our discussions
will centre on the utopia of lower taxes and better health,
education and social security services. You can have one or
the other, but not both.

The roots of this dichotomy are old and hark back to the
fact that, over the past 30 years, Ireland has positioned
itself politically at the heart of Europe (initially to
move out of London’s orbit). Economically, we have moved
away from the European model and jumped into America’s

The European political move has meant that our politicians
adopt the language and posturing of the European left-of-
centre consensus, with its ultimate promise of a strong
state providing a functioning safety net (this will be
evident in the minister’s budget speech).

Yet this rhetoric is in direct contrast to the realities of
being part of the US economic space. We have adopted
American policy on taxation, investment, trade and business
attitudes. We have stopped short of the American ‘get-a-
job, bum’ attitude to the poor, preferring - but not
delivering - the less unpalatable European ‘the-state-will-
provide-from-cradle-to-grave’ approach to poverty.

So we are a bit like a jockey riding two horses. When the
horses are moving along in tandem, the jockey’s position is
tenable and almost comfortable. When our European rhetoric
does not undermine our American values, we - like the
jockey - can ride both steeds effortlessly. But when the
two horses move in opposite directions, we have to choose.

What makes Ireland unusual is that it is the only EU nation
that benefits more when Europe is weak and America strong.

The fusion of monetary economics, trade flows, immigration,
demography and investment flows explains this. When Europe
is in recession, Irish interest rates are extremely low to
reflect this. But because we are much younger than the rest
of Europe and young countries spend more, we get a free

We get German interest rates that fuel the Irish boom. On
top of this, when Germany is weak, the dollar is strong
against the euro. This makes Ireland look cheap and hyper-
productive to American investors, creating more jobs here,
reinforcing the injection of German cash because, as our
incomes rise, we can borrow more without necessarily
feeling the strain.

In addition, we still do twice as much trade outside
continental Europe as within it. So we benefit
disproportionately when the rest of the world is growing
faster. In contrast, we do not get a huge payback from a
robust Europe.

Also, because migrants from central Europe are so
essential, we benefit when unemployment is high in Germany
and France, because it makes their decision to come to
Ireland easier.

We are unique in the EU in that it suits us to have a weak
Europe. We are bit like a parasite feeding off a bloated
and sclerotic Europe, which is too lumbering and slow to
swat us away.

This bizarre set of divided loyalties holds true, not just
for economics, but for politics, too. When Europe is
economically fragile, the ambitions of some of Europe’s
more deeply federalist politicians are thwarted.

The continent can only expand when there is a tailwind of
positive economics at the national level.

If people are worried about their jobs, the last thing they
are going to do is support what is perceived as a pampered
elite with superfluous ideas and potty projects.

This is what we saw in last year’s constitutional votes,
where the metropolitan elites were out of step with
ordinary voters all across Europe.

This development is unambiguously positive for Ireland. As
semi-detached Ameropeans – half-European, half-American -
the prospect of a strong federal Europe challenging America
properly in either foreign affairs or global economics
might force us to choose, which is something we are loath
to do.

The art of playing both sides is that you should never
commit to either.

This is always easier when the relationship between your
two suitors is very slightly unequal.

The falling dollar might be signalling that the
inconsistencies in America’s economy -namely the huge
budget deficit, current account deficit and rapid
indebtedness of its population - are making themselves

Equally, the more muscular performance of Germany in the
past week suggests that, cyclically, Europe might be
properly recovering. This is bad news for us.

Watch these developments because, notwithstanding all the
media razzmatazz surrounding Wednesday’s budget, the big
global trends will have more impact on the Ireland of the
future than local sideshows.


Opin: There’s A Danger SF Could Share Power In Republic

Matt Cooper:

As Sinn Fein moves closer to power in Northern Ireland, the
possibility of the party entering government in the
republic could prove to be one of the defining political
developments of 2007.

Bertie Ahern has stated consistently that Fianna Fail will
not entertain the notion of dealing with Sinn Fein. And you
can bet that he will maintain that stance throughout next
year’s election campaign. Failure to do so would scare off
more than just the party’s wealthy backers. But what
happens if the post-election numbers dictate that coalition
with Sinn Fein is Fianna Fail’s best chance of returning to
power? The continued existence of the IRA is a direct snub
to the republic’s Defence Forces, the only legitimate force
recognised by the government. But an accommodation of sorts
could be reached if Sinn Fein signs up to policing in
Northern Ireland, becomes part of a power-sharing executive
with Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist party and the IRA
remains inactive.

But that presupposes plenty. Recognising the PSNI is vital
but with political progress in Northern Ireland
painstakingly slow, there would still be no guarantee that
the March deadline for completion of the agreed initiatives
would be met.

A deal completed in the first three months of next year
would be perfect for Sinn Fein’s electoral ambitions in the
republic — assuming Paisley’s hardliners can be brought on
board by the DUP. The “peace dividend” for Sinn Fein is

If DUP members are expected to shed their visceral hatred
towards a party that has wreaked violence on the Protestant
community, it will become more difficult to argue that Sinn
Fein is not suitable as a political partner for government
in the south.

Once Northern Assembly elections are out of the way, Sinn
Fein can focus on the general election in the republic. And
in the event that the numbers fall in its favour, the party
could end up setting down terms to Fianna Fail because
nobody else is in a position to do so.

For some that is a nightmare scenario in which the reward
for a past involving ruthless murders is power. For others
it would be the logical conclusion to a process in which
Sinn Fein has renounced violence, recognised the legitimacy
of the border and the 26-county republic and devoted itself
to democratic politics.

One person definitely horrified at the prospect of Sinn
Fein holding power in the republic is Michael McDowell. The
thought of losing office is bad enough, but the notion that
his place at the cabinet table might be taken by the
Shinners is something else altogether.

McDowell’s prediction last week that the next government
will be a combination of Fianna Fail “and somebody else” is
both obvious and accurate given the gap Fine Gael and
Labour have to bridge. But naming Sinn Fein as one of
Fianna Fail’s likely coalition candidates put a topic that
many had forgotten back on the agenda.

Most comment on last Friday’s Irish Times opinion poll
failed to add Fianna Fail’s vote to that of either Sinn
Fein or Labour, leaving the impression that a Progressive
Democrats- or independents-backed Fianna Fail coalition is
Ahern’s only option. But if Fianna Fail’s 40% rating is
combined with Sinn Fein’s 7%, then, translated into seats,
that’s a viable coalition. The combined 43% for the current
coalition government is not.

McDowell’s problem is how best to confront the issue. The
tanaiste has never flinched from attacking the real or
perceived presence of Sinn Fein/IRA in any controversy. He
has linked Sinn Fein expressly to criminality, including
the now largely forgotten Northern Bank heist two years ago
and the callous murder of Robert McCartney. He also used
the party to blacken the name of the journalist Frank
Connolly. But these attacks may have been

The public’s distaste for McDowell’s stridency (he is now
the least popular party leader in the country) and growing
appreciation of Gerry Adams’s apparent striving for peace
has actually cast Sinn Fein into the unlikely role of
victims. It is no coincidence that Sinn Fein’s slippage in
the opinion polls coincided with McDowell turning down the

But when McDowell has an itch he has to scratch it. So in
recent weeks he has resumed his attack on Sinn Fein,
specifically blaming it for orchestrating anti-gardai
protest tactics at the proposed Shell gas refining terminal
in west Mayo. It is clear that other left-wing elements are
at least equally involved in stirring the locals, but that
is of no concern to McDowell once he gets into mud-slinging

The PD leader might be better off concentrating on the
weakness of Sinn Fein’s economic ideas, creating a red
scare rather than a green one. Sinn Fein’s Achilles heel
for voters in the republic is its emphasis on higher tax
and outdated, small-minded, unpopular ideas about
investment and wealth redistribution based on discredited
far-left ideologies.

Listening to Adams talking about economic matters, you
quickly realise he has been tied up in the internal
politics of Northern Ireland for so long that he has failed
to realise the significance of the seismic economic changes
that have taken place south of the border. The republic is
now Me Fein as opposed to Sinn Fein. And that probably
explains why Sinn Fein’s 7% poll rating is at its lowest in
the south in years.

And here’s something else that McDowell could play upon in
election year: Adams, Sinn Fein’s best-known face, could
become an electoral liability for the party in the

Given his status and consistently high personal poll
rating, most people would expect Adams to front Sinn Fein’s
campaign in the south. Admired in the republic for carrying
so many northern nationalists in his wake in the
transformation to democratic politics, his past in the IRA,
which he continues to deny, is seemingly irrelevant.

But the skills he has displayed in the north and the issues
he has concentrated on, including policing and power-
sharing, won’t play with voters south of the border. His
attacks on the republic’s health service and societal
developments not to his taste are much the same as those
espoused by many other politicians and parties.

In other words, his point of difference disappears when he
embroils himself in southern debate. That is the ground the
southern establishment has to drag him onto.

And there are other credibility issues. Adams is not
standing for election himself, so how can he seek votes
when he and other Sinn Fein members are based in the north?
The candidates in the republic, compared to the party’s
stars in the north, are intellectual pygmies. The party
will counter that those considerations didn’t damage it in
2002, but nobody thought of Sinn Fein as potential
government partners back then.

Of course, Sinn Fein might decide it is too soon for the
party to get into a formal alliance with Fianna Fail. The
dangers of the embrace could outweigh the positives, since
many of its supporters would prefer to posture as the
alienated rather than become part of the establishment.

Adams has previously stated that Sinn Fein would only go
into government in the republic on its terms. It would be a
further irony if, having entered government with Paisley
and the DUP, Sinn Fein decided that Fianna Fail was too
toxic a political partner. But will the electorate even
allow Sinn Fein to get into a position where it would have
that choice?


The Facts Behind Gaidar ‘Poisoning’

03 December 2006 By Seamus Martin

Was former Russian prime minister Dr Yegor Gaidar poisoned
in Ireland?

Was he close to death on November 24? Was he unconscious
for three hours as he struggled for his life?

All of these allegations were made 2,000 miles away from
Ireland and at a remove of almost a week from the bizarre
events that took place in the peaceful surroundings of the
Renehan Hall, on the old campus at NUI Maynooth. I find it
difficult to believe any of them.

What follows is the Irish version, as seen by myself and
others who were present.

The conference on ‘‘Ireland and Russia: history, the rule
of law and the changing international system’’ began at
9.30am on Friday, with Gaidar already feeling unwell.

According to one of the seven Russians who accompanied him
to Ireland, he had initially felt ill at Ferihegy Airport
in Budapest, where the party changed planes on their way
from Moscow to Dublin.

Gaidar, who suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes,
was under stress. His daughter, Maria, had been involved in
a demonstration against President Vladimir Putin and had
been questioned by police. He was concerned about her
safety, but was later able to confirm by phone that she had
not been arrested.

During the early part of the conference - including a
welcoming speech by the president of NUI Maynooth,
Professor John Hughes, an opening address by the Irish
Ambassador to Russia, Justin Harman, and a brief
contribution by Dr Garret FitzGerald - Gaidar sat in the
audience. He left the conference later to take a rest.

In the late afternoon, he returned to the Renehan Hall and
began delivering his paper on ‘‘Civil society, minorities
and migration’’. He spoke slowly and deliberately, and then
suddenly stopped.

He was silent for a few seconds, rose to his feet saying
that he could not continue and walked out of the room with
his hand to his mouth, in the manner of someone about to
throw up.

He collapsed in the corridor outside the Renehan Hall where
he suffered a serious nosebleed. He also vomited, and blood
was seen to come out of his mouth. Those who helped him
were very clear that, if he did he lose consciousness, it
was for the briefest of periods. He was helped into a chair
and was attended by two doctors, who happened to be in the
college. He informed one of them about his high blood
pressure and his diabetes.

One doctor listened to Gaidar’s heartbeat through a
stethoscope. He told those who were helping the former
Russian prime minister that his rapid but strong pulse, as
well as his bleeding, were consistent with hypertension,
and that the bleeding was a good sign, as it would help
relieve the pressure.

It was also suggested that the fact Gaidar had not eaten
since breakfast might have aggravated his diabetic

Gaidar was taken by ambulance to the James Connolly
hospital in Blanchardstown and was able to talk to the
ambulance personnel as he entered the vehicle.

The Russian embassy despatched a consular official to the
hospital. Roughly two hours after Gaidar’s collapse, I was
told by an embassy source that Gaidar’s condition had
improved considerably, and that he would remain under
observation overnight and would be released from hospital
the following morning. The source said that doctors at the
hospital believed his illness was linked to diabetes.

Gaidar was released on the morning of November 25. He spent
that day at the Russian embassy in Dublin, before returning
to Moscow with the rest of the Russian group that had
attended the conference.

It was on his return to Moscow that the sparks began to
fly. Gaidar checked in to a hospital in the Russian

Statements were made by his daughter and an aide suggesting
he had been poisoned.

Some of these statements are manifestly untrue, notably one
by his daughter Maria that her father had been unconscious
for three hours and was in danger of death.

He may have passed out briefly, but those near him
described his condition as being closer to that of a person
who had fainted, rather than someone who had become

Doctors at the Moscow hospital were reported to believe
that poison was the cause of Gaidar’s condition. But the
reports came, not from the doctors themselves, but from
Gaidar’s daughter Maria and from his own personal

The use of radioactive material has now been ruled out by
the authorities in Moscow.

Gaidar came from a privileged family in the communist
elite. His grandfather, Arkady Gaidar, whose real surname
was Golikov, was a revolutionary soldier in the Russian
civil war and later a well-known children’s author.

His stories of ‘Timur and his Team’ told of a young boy’s
devotion to the regime and his struggles against the

Gaidar’s father reached the rank of admiral in the Soviet

When the communist system creaked towards its inevitable
collapse, Yegor Gaidar was one of the principal architects
of Russia’s economic reforms, which took place during my
first term as Moscow correspondent of The Irish Times.

In 1992, his economic shock therapy resulted in an
inflation rate of more than 2,500 per cent.

Those worst hit were the elderly whose pensions were wiped
out almost at a stroke, and Gaidar is still extremely
unpopular in these quarters.

The elderly Russians who suffered under his prime
ministership are, however, the people least likely to have
the ability or the wherewithal to make an attempt on his

There is no obvious motive either for anyone in Putin’s
administration or in the security services to attempt to
kill Gaidar.

Politically he is very much ‘‘yesterday’s man’’ and has had
no major disagreements with the Kremlin. In fact, he
occasionally gives economic advice on behalf of his Moscow
think tank.

Putin’s phone call to wish him well in hospital in Russia
would indicate that there was no ill-will between the two

Gaidar’s daughter Maria, however, is a virulent opponent of
Putin and his policies. An attempt on her father’s life
would help to give her publicity for her political
campaigns, and there is little doubt that she used her
father’s illness very effectively.

Her statement that he was unconscious for three hours has
been shown to be untrue.

Her claim that her father was near to death also appears to
be false. The medical staff at the James Connolly would not
have allowed a critically ill patient to leave their care.

Another person who quickly suggested poisoning from a
distance of 2,000 miles was Anatoly Chubais, head of
Russia’s electricity monopoly, the Unified Energy System.

Chubais was the author of the ‘‘loans-for-shares’’ scheme
that enriched most of Russia’s billionaire oligarchs. He
was noted, during my years in Moscow, as a sharp political
operator who made alarmist statements when it suited his
political aims.

His most frequent tactic has been to warn of ‘‘impending
civil war’’ if one of his opponents were to succeed
electorally. In that context, a mere poisoning seems
relatively unimportant.


Book: Chronology Of A Conflict

A new edition of Lost Lives, a tribute to the 3,720 victims
of the Troubles, throws light on past atrocities, writes
Susan McKay.

A Tyrone man bought five copies. Five members of his
family, all in the security forces, had been killed. A
Donegal man found out from the book that it was the UVF,
and not the IRA, that had killed his brother as his family
had supposed for 30 years. It has been read out in
churches, Protestant and Catholic. A woman wept so much
over the book in a shop she left mascara stains on the page
at which she'd opened it.

A new edition of Lost Lives, the magnificent book which
commemorates the men women and children who died in the
Troubles comes out later this month. It does so 40 years
after the first murder recorded in the book, that of John
Scullion, a 28-year-old Catholic storeman who was shot by
loyalists as he walked home from the pub in June 1966.

The book has been described by novelist Glenn Patterson as
"a labour of the authors' true love" for their fellow
citizens. It took seven years of arduous and complex work.
The authors: David McKittrick, Ireland editor of the London
Independent; BBC journalist Seamus Kelters; historian and
commentator Brian Feeney and Belfast Telegraph journalist
Chris Thornton, started work on the project in 1992.

They were joined in 1996 by former teacher David McVea. His
wife, Irish Times columnist Fionnuala O'Connor, wrote the
chronologies that introduce each year's murders. The first
edition was published in 1999. To date, almost 20,000
copies of the huge tome have been sold.

"Since 2003, we've had significant developments," says
Feeney. "We've had decommissioning and the IRA leaving the
scene. The IRA has started to apologise for what it calls
'mistakes'. Revelations about security force collusion with
loyalists have been coming thick and fast."

Last year, the IRA admitted that 35-year-old father of
five, Eugene McQuaid, was blown up in 1974

after a bomb it had forced him to carry on his motorbike
exploded prematurely. For 30 years his family lived with
false rumours that he had been an

IRA man whose own bomb had killed him.

The IRA has also admitted it sanctioned the murder of
Bernard Teggart in 1973. The 15-year-old Belfast boy, who
had a mental age of eight, had witnessed an attempted
hijacking. He was shot and left lying on the road with a
sign round his neck saying "tout".

There is a lot of activity involving victims of the
Troubles these days. Last month, the Northern Ireland
Secretary, Peter Hain, was excoriated by a High Court judge
for his conduct over the appointment of an interim victims
commissioner. Last week, families of those murdered in the
1984 Loughinisland pub atrocity lobbied at the European
Parliament as part of their campaign for an inquiry into
the failed RUC investigation, which they believe was
compromised. Last Wednesday, an Oireachtas committee

it had found strong evidence of security force collusion in
loyalist killings in Armagh.

THERE HAVE BEEN deaths to add to Lost Lives - but,
thankfully, not many. The year 1972 takes up 173 pages to
cover a shocking 497 deaths in what was the worst single
year in the conflict. From 2003 until September this year,
there were 15 new victims. The total number of victims now
included is 3,720.

One of the deaths newly included occurred in 1988.

"We just recently found out about the killing of Marie
Kane," says McVea. "She was a Belfast woman, living in
England. It was three days after the two British army
corporals were killed on the Falls Road. She got into an
argument about the corporals in a pub, was ordered out and
was followed by an ex-soldier who stabbed her to death."
The two corporals were beaten and shot during the funeral
of IRA man Caoimhín MacBradaigh, who had been killed by UDA
man Michael Stone during the funeral of the three IRA
members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar. In the blizzard of
news about

this spiral of deaths, the English story got lost.

Over the years, people have been deeply offended and
angered by the way some deaths have had a high profile
while others have scarcely been noted. Lost Lives has been
praised for its integrity in treating all victims with

Several of the recent victims were of loyalists killed in
internal feuds, best known among them the flamboyant and
extremely violent UDA leader Jim Gray. The brutal murder of
Robert McCartney by IRA members in January 2005 caused
outrage north and south of the Border and internationally.

Denis Donaldson's murder also made world headlines. The
former Sinn Féin apparatchik, exposed as a British spy, was
shot at the remote Co Donegal cottage to which he had
retreated. "We had to leave everything up in the air about
Donaldson, since everyone claims they know nothing about
it," says Feeney.

After a debate, the team decided not to include Lisa
Dorrian, the Bangor woman who disappeared in February 2004.
"She was probably murdered by people who were in a loyalist
paramilitary organisation but that doesn't mean it was
anything to do with the Troubles," says Feeney. Schoolboy
Thomas Devlin, stabbed to death in North Belfast in August
2005, is not included either, but 15-year-old Michael
McIlveen, beaten to death in Ballymena in May this year is.
The former is not thought to have been sectarian, whereas
the latter is.

"The book has been overwhelmingly well received," says
McVea. In 2001, it won the Ewart Biggs Prize for the
promotion of peace and reconciliation in Ireland. The
authors have been moved by letters and messages they have
received from the families of victims, many of whom have
seen the book as a fitting memorial to their dead loved

"It has been a challenging project and at times a very
emotional one for all of us," says McVea. "Sometimes there
would be tears in your eyes. It hits you in waves, the
terrible losses people have suffered."

Lost Lives, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian
Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea, is published by
Mainstream Publishing, £30

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