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 06, 2006

George Mitchell To Be US Ambassador to UN?

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 12/06/06 George Mitchell To Be US Ambassador?
BT 12/06/06 DUP Describe Talks With PM As 'Useful'
NH 12/06/06 Post–Paisley Battles Begin
IN 12/06/06 Bomb Had ‘Potential To Kill’
NH 12/06/06 Man's Death To Be Raised At Capitol Hill
IN 12/06/06 Opin: Time To Break Free From Shackles Of Past
BT 12/06/06 Opin: Violence Will Not Derail Political Deal
IM 12/06/06 Opin: Policing – Reform Or Revolution
CI 12/06/06 Blog: Times, They Are A Changing Or Are They?
WT 12/06/06 Blog: Omagh Hopes For Inclusive Day Of Reflection
OS 12/06/06 Blog: Ógra Sfmeet With South African Leader
RT 12/06/06 Judge To Decide Derry Name Issue
NW 12/06/06 Books: All About The Gunrunning Fad
KA 12/06/06 Books: While Mem'ry Brings Us Back Again
UT 12/06/06 Long Lost Paul Henry Painting Sold
UT 12/06/06 Pacino To Honour Van The Man

(On December 6, 1921 - Britain signs peace treaty with
Ireland establishing Irish Free State.)


Mitchell To Be US Ambassador?

By Chris Thornton
06 December 2006

Former US Senator George Mitchell, one of the chief
architects of the Good Friday Agreement, could be the next
American ambassador to the UN.

Senator Mitchell has been shortlisted by the White House
for the post, according to news reports in the US.

Outgoing Ambassador John Bolton resigned on Monday, after
it became clear that the Democratic leadership, which
recently took control of the US Congress, would block his
permanent appointment.

Mr Bolton is the second prominent casualty of the
Democrat's victory in last month's American elections,
following the resignation of Defence Secretary Donald

Since Senator Mitchell is a Democrat, he would be expected
to get the approval of the Senate, which must approve
President Bush's ambassadorial appointments.

Other potential appointees include Zalmay Khalilzad,
currently the US ambassador in Baghdad, and Nicholas Burns,
a State Department official.

Reports on Senator Mitchell's possible nomination have
cited his diplomatic experience in Northern Ireland.

The 72-year-old was chairman of the talks that led to the
Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

He led the Commission that produced the Mitchell Principles
on non-violence and chaired a review of the Agreement that
helped establish the first Executive in Stormont in 1999.

His involvement in the peace process was widely praised by
unionist and nationalist politicians.

Senator Mitchell is currently the chancellor of Queen's

He is also chairman of the Disney corporation, a position
he is due to give up at the end of this month.

And he is conducting an investigation into the use of
steroids by professional baseball players.


DUP Describe Talks With Prime Minister As 'Useful'

By Ashleigh Wallace
06 December 2006

A delegation of DUP politicians has held a "very useful"
meeting with Tony Blair at Downing Street.

Headed by party leader Ian Paisley, the Ulster politicians
travelled to London yesterday for talks with the Prime

Accompanied by Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds and Lord Morrow,
Mr Paisley's team held the meeting just 24 hours after the
Prime Minister met with Bertie Ahern to discuss restoring

Following the meeting, the DUP leader said: "The clock has
ticked and we've had no real progress from the IRA/Sinn

"Now they must put their money where their mouth is and
they must move."

Branding yesterday's meeting with Mr Blair as "very
useful", Nigel Dodds said: "We concentrated on the delivery
from Sinn Fein of the things that they need to do and the
delivery from government on the things they need to do."

He added both Sinn Fein and the government needed to "get
on with it" as "time is clearly of the essence."


Post–Paisley Battles Begin

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

The DUP is now pandering policy-wise to its increasingly
vocal dissident wing. Northern Political Columnist John
Coulter probes how internal tensions over the St Andrews
Agreement have heralded the opening shots in leadership
bids in the post Paisley DUP and Free Presbyterian Church.

Ian Paisley's DUP has shifted back to its traditional
radical Right-wing stance in a bid to defuse tensions
between the rival pro and anti-St Andrews Agreement

Following the behind closed doors brain storming session
last week, dubbed the Templepatrick Talks because of their
location, it would appear the DUP leadership has opted for
party unity rather than political progress.

A clear indication of the hardening of the Paisleyite
strategy comes ahead of today's (Tuesday) key Downing
Street talks between the party and Tony Blair.

The four-strong team to meet Blair consists of pro-deal
advocates Paisley Senior and deputy Peter Robinson, along
with leading deal sceptics Lord Morrow and North Belfast MP
Nigel Dodds.

It would also appear the primary purpose of the
Templepatrick Talks was to avoid the electoral pitfall into
which former First Minister and rival Ulster Unionist boss
David Trimble tumbled into during the 1998 and 2003
Stormont polls.

The UUP was forced to select both pro and anti-Belfast
Agreement candidates, but this concession did not stop the
party losing key seats to anti-Agreement Unionists in the
DUP and other fringe parties, such as barrister Bob
McCartney's United Kingdom Unionists.

The hardening of the DUP's stance sees dissident Unionism's
demand Sinn Féin completes a so-called "decontamination
period" to supposedly ensure the republican movement is
fully committed to power-sharing and policing.

If dissident Unionist thinking is once again becoming
mainstream DUP policy, it could force Northern Secretary
Peter Hain to step up his pressure on SF to call its ard
fheis on support for the PSNI and the Policing Board before
the end of January 2007.

The primary fallout from Farcical Friday – the day Paisley
Senior was supposed to indicate his willingness to be
nominated as First Minister – was to send shivers of
discontent down the spines of the DUP's increasingly vocal
anti-deal wing, built mainly around MEP Jim Allister.

The DUP's highly volatile religious fundamentalist wing
became convinced the party had been backed into a tight
political corner by SF over the timing of the policing ard

With an estimated half the DUP unhappy to various degrees
with the Scottish deal, senior party sources privately
admitted they did not want to go into the planned 7 March
Assembly poll without SF formally committed to policing.

Had the DUP not agreed at Templepatrick to include a more
dissident line in future talks, there was the real danger a
significant number of traditional Paisleyite voters would
defect electorally to anti-deal Unionist candidates,
costing the DUP as many as eight Assembly seats.

This fuelled allegations Hain could have been forced to
suspend the 7 March poll to save the Paisley camp. However,
the new Paisley thinking is to refocus pressure on SF by
implementing a DUP strategy which puts decontamination
before devolution.

This policy will certainly calm dissident nerves, bolster
party unity and fend off talk of independent dissident
candidates on 7 March.

With SF's popularity also apparently slipping in Northern
polls, Hain may again before forced to scrap the March
poll, only this time not to save republicans, but because
it is clear the 26 March deadline for the restoration of a
power-sharing Executive cannot be achieved.

However, the sticky plaster method to spin unity in the DUP
does not cover up the parallel battle within both Paisley's
party and fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church as to who
succeeds him when he is physically no longer in control of

There may be considerable unease within the DUP and the
Free Presbyterian Church over the St Andrews Agreement, but
this has still not stopped the rival factions milking these
tensions to up the ante on their respective leadership

Even if Paisley Senior enters a power-sharing Executive
with SF by 26 March, he will be aged 81 a few weeks later
on 6 April.

The North would not be looking at his reign as First
Minister in the same timeframe as his leadership of the
DUP, which he founded in 1971, or Moderatorship of the Free
Church, which he set up in 1952.

Public DUP unity has been the most visible outcome of the
Templepatrick Talks, but it has also clearly informally
fired the starting gun for realignments with the DUP and
Free Presbyterian Church in a post-Paisley era.

In the DUP, leading this field at the moment is the
populist wing with Peter Robinson as leader and UUP
defector Jeffrey Donaldson from Lagan Valley as deputy

The fundamentalist team will be building around Nigel Dodds
as boss, with Paisley Junior from North Antrim as his

The dissident Right-wing will clearly view Jim Allister as
its main candidate, with North Antrim MLA and leading
Independent Orangeman Mervyn Storey as deputy.

In the Free Church, there are again three factions – those
who want to maintain the link with the DUP; those who wish
to break the link, but remain staunchly fundamentalist; and
an evangelical faction which wants to build a Pan Christian
Front with other fundamentalist Protestant denominations,
such as the Elim Pentecostalists, the Baptists, and
Plymouth Brethren.

December 6, 2006

This article appeared in the December 5, 2006 edition of
the Irish Daily Star.


Bomb Had ‘Potential To Kill’

By Staff Reporter

A BLAST-bomb found in the garden of a house in Co Tyrone
had the potential to kill, police have said.

Strahulter Road near Newtownstewart was closed off from
Monday afternoon until lunchtime yesterday after a warning
that a device had been left in the area.

A police spokesman said it was made safe by British army
technical officers – the second bomb find in Co Tyrone
within 12 hours.

On Monday what police described as a viable device was
found near a pub at Cloughcor on the main Derry to Strabane
road. Dissident republicans were blamed.

Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty said there was “absolutely no
support” for those responsible for either “futile” attack,
which caused widespread disruption.


Belfast Man's Death To Be Raised At Capitol Hill

(Marie Louise McCrory, Irish News)

The death of an American-born Belfast man, six months after
he alleged he was assaulted by the RUC, is to be raised at
Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

John Hemsworth (40) was born in New Jersey in the US but
after a few years his family moved back to Northern

He died in Belfast of a stroke in January 1998, six months
after lodging a complaint against the RUC in which he
claimed he had been beaten by officers during the 1997
Drumcree standoff.

Although a postmortem was carried out, it is understood no
causal link was found between the death and the alleged
attack. The death was registered without an inquest.

Fr Sean McManus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish
National Caucus, said he would raise the case in the new
Congress when it convenes in early January.

December 6, 2006

This article appeared first in the December 5, 2006 edition
of the Irish News.


Opin: Time To Break Free From Shackles Of The Past

By Roy Garland

Our dominant political parties are apparently not yet ready
to do what is needed to bring reconciliation between
alienated tribes. Deep distrust permeates the whole
community and damns all attempts to move on.

The DUP remain uneasy about the new road they have
apparently chosen, knowing that the reactionary monster
they helped create could turn and rend them.

They try to divert pressure onto opponents and fail to
reassure republicans that they intend to share power and
work cross-border bodies effectively.

The DUP have not as yet even engaged with their opponents
and real leadership is not being shown. They want their
supporters to believe a lie that they are not even
contemplating sharing power with Sinn Fein.

Given these confusing signals republicans inevitably
suspect that present demands hide other demands to be
called on ad infinitum to put off the inevitable day of

It is part and parcel of both cultures to be almost
congenitally paranoid about the intentions of the others,
and so many will resist change at the drop of a hat.

Militant dissident republicans want to keep the pure sacred
flame of coercion burning and will give no quarter to
unionist needs. Instead of seeking a means of living
together they would impose victory for their fundamentalist
creed if this were possible.

Meanwhile, mainline republicans make limited attempts to
reassure unionists that their intention is not to use any
deal as a mere stepping stone to something else.

Both traditions are intimately related to each other, feed
off each other and have got themselves into a state of
paranoid suspicion about each other and of the intentions
of two sovereign governments.

Many seem incapable of relating constructively to members
of the other tradition. Democratic Unionists are so lacking
in confidence they cannot even enter into dialogue with
their potential partners in government.

It is well said that bullies act out of fear of failure and
a desire to hide their own inadequacies.

In their book The Troubled Mind of Northern Ireland, Raman
Kapur and Jim Campbell suggest that we often try to force
the others to own up to their crimes believing that if they
do, everything will be resolved.

Even otherwise progressive people get caught up in
poisonous finger-pointing exercises, assuming that if
others accept the blame all will be well.

We get a kick out of being hurtful to the others, which
strengthens bonds between tribesmen but ultimately damages

Our verbal terrorism is reflected in language and symbolism
that brings a feel-good factor but destroys relationships.

A spurious strength is gained from being non-compliant but
widespread destructiveness follows in its train. In this
manner the two major parties have gained preeminence but
now face great difficulties accommodating each other.

The above authors suggest: “For this society to change,
good experiences must prevail and be genuinely offered as
an alternative to bad experiences. People must begin to say
‘Yes’ even if it opens them up to vulnerability.”

Sinn Fein is admittedly more open to dialogue but this is
not interpreted as a means of facilitating accommodation
but rather of furthering an exclusive nationalist agenda.

The DUP interpret all such invitations in line with the
proverbial ‘Come into my parlour said the spider to the

If Sinn Fein wishes to become beneficiaries of power-
sharing arrangements, they cannot avoid the absolute
requirement to support policing.

That support appears to be on the cards and, given
republican mindsets and experiences, will prove difficult.

But surely we have been in this process long enough to know
that support for the PSNI is not an optional extra. Why not
break the log jam now and expose DUP nakedness?

The policing service is not and never will be perfect but
from the inside Sinn Fein might help make it even more

Likewise the DUP knows that getting their hands on the
levers of power means sharing that power with republicans.

Their worries about Big Ian as first minister being
photographed alongside deputy first minister Martin
McGuinness are understandable given half a century of anti-
Catholic and anti-republican rhetoric.

But it is surely time for both parties to bite the bullet
and free their people from interminable talks that fail to
reach conclusion.

It is time to speak peace to one another, to relinquish
animosity and myopia, to break the enmity by forming
friendships with neighbours who live in our midst.


Opin: Violence Will Not Derail Political Deal

06 December 2006

Just as soon as Stormont is up and running - in
transitional mode - dissident republicans return to the
dangerous and disruptive tactics that put lives and hopes
of progress at risk. The mortar bomb that overshot its
police station target at Craigavon was the most serious
incident, but elsewhere there have been security alerts and
explosive devices have been found near Strabane and in

Clearly this latest upsurge in activity is an attempt by
republicans who have broken away from the IRA to upset both
communities during this crucial period before the Assembly
elections next March. They oppose Sinn Fein's participation
at Stormont, hoping to develop splits in its ranks, and
they want to increase the suspicion, among unionists of all
varieties, that Sinn Fein will never fully support police
investigation into republican violence.

The only response to people who have nothing to offer but
destructiveness is the same as it always has been - an
added determination to make political progress, whatever
the cost. For Sinn Fein to back away from its commitment to
support policing, as soon as it agrees that the conditions
are right, would be disastrous, for the political future.
And for unionists to conclude that republicans will never
fully accept the rule of law, while these divisions exist,
would be equally detrimental.

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP, along with the other parties,
must carry on with the work of preparation and negotiation
for devolved government starting next March. Whatever the
dissidents do or say - and a few firebombs in Belfast and
Newry have caused up to £30m damage - they must stick to
their task of reaching a viable deal, based on the St
Andrews Agreement, by the end of this transitional Assembly
on January 30.

It will be tough going, with the two main parties yet to
speak face to face, but a start was made in the Assembly
this week. The Rev Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams engaged in a
civilised exchange, across the Assembly chamber, on the
part played by Presbyterians in the 1798 Rising in Co.
Antrim. They didn't agree, and perhaps historians should
have their say on the matter, but at least they listened to
each other's opinions with some degree of respect.

As has often been said, no devolution deal between
republicans and unionists will succeed without trust - and
one can be sure that the dissidents will try to destroy
what little exists. Their aim is to kill any sign of
compromise, by Sinn Fein, and to fuel unionist suspicion
about the common purpose of all republicans. It is up to
the police, and democrats of all kinds, to make sure they
do not succeed.


Opin: Policing – Reform Or Revolution

National Miscellaneous Opinion/Analysis
Wednesday December 06, 2006 12:28
by Dialectical –
Ógra Shinn Féin
Sean Brady

Since the partition of Ireland two state forces have
emerged with similar agendas. They have inherited many
qualities of the old orders of control. The Garda and the
RUC/PSNI. (The force has changed its name several times)
are the strongest wings of state control. The RUC is the
more starkly apparent of the two given its infamous role as
a counter insurgency force and tool of repression.

The primary role of western-modelled police forces (as
opposed to services) is to put back into place those who
move beyond their remit. The police belong to an intricate
system of governmental control encompassing, the judicial
system, state prisons, the media and the statutory bodies.
Their desire to protect and serve citizens is questionable.

A move on policing in terms of the latest negotiations will
not give republicans the power to collapse the corrupt
institution of the RUC from within. We will not wrest the
important aspects of state control from the British

While our people and communities need safety, the limited
devolution of policing powers to the assembly will not
achieve this nor create accountability within this force.
Having limited control of a strong arm in society does not,
has not, and will not alleviate the causes of crime. We
must understand the social and primarily economic causes of
most ‘crime’ before attempting to address it.

The potential setbacks for the struggle cannot be
underestimated if we give credence to such a failed system
to clinch a short-term deal with right-wing unionists and
the British government. The pitfall within the current
debate is its parameters. We can’t allow ourselves to be
reduced to a discussion on reform of a British system. We
must debate how we can develop and implement a policing and
criminal justice model for Ireland now, or in the future.
To do so we cannot put the noose of this failed system
around our necks.

How do we deal with the ongoing policing and justice void
within the country caused by British occupation in the

How do we challenge the economic and social inequalities
intrinsic to both states and the corruption and ineptitude
that characterises both regimes?

How do we rectify the social and economic ills that affect
our communities, indeed all of society?

Firstly we must reject the failed model that is western
policing and maintain our integrity as Irish republicans.
We should recognise that crime is multi-faceted and
challenge it accordingly; that the archaic, draconian,
Christian model of ‘crime and punishment’ in this country
does not and never should apply within a civilised
progressive society. It simply does not work.

Why are the vast majority of prison populations from multi-
deprived backgrounds and, in most cases imprisoned for
crimes against people from the same background? Yet there
are very few white collars in Maghaberry, Brixton or
Portlaoise. Do the police deal with real crime or simply
with controlling ghettos? In truth there are no greater
crimes than those perpetrated daily by the Shell oils, Coca
Cola’s, and Sellafield’s of this world yet these
institutions are not effectively policed at all.

The challenge that faces us is that we are trying to wrest
national sovereignty including control of the policing and
justice structures from Whitehall and Leinster house and
give it back to the people of Ireland. We must be bigger
than the narrow debate surrounding policing.

Crucially, we as republicans are not to blame for the
fracturing of our society by crime, poverty, politics or
ineptitude. Taking a position, however strong, within this
system will not help us change the situation. Republicans
cannot solve the policing issue by becoming the police
within this system.

We should tackle the issues and not try to effect cosmetic
change within a British controlled and irreformable model
of policing. We must find an alternative to the western
norm of policing and control; a system that benefits
society and deals with social harm at its roots. Our answer
must be to invest in community development and to instil a
preventative ethos, rather than chasing the wild goose of
policing reform.

Safety, civility and cooperation is more than having
ownership of, or access to, a body that can ‘punish the
wicked’. The resources exist in this country to address
societal failures but have not yet realised their full
potential. Many of the resources of community empowerment
are at our disposal; CRJ, the safer neighbourhoods
projects, a litany of community/youth organisations and
voluntary sectors. Our communities are capable of accepting
a revolutionary initiative if they are participants in its
creation and stakeholders in its success. We should not
fall victim to the simplistic analysis of ‘a police force
equals order and safety’.

We also cannot bow to the pressure to make a hasty and
ultimately counterproductive decision. The decision on
policing and criminal justice has the potential to set back
or completely derail any radical change. It also has the
potential to assimilate the republican movement into the
institutions we’re committed to replacing. It would be a
massive republican misjudgement.

We will become part of the problem not the solution. Our
energies would be much better spent dismantling the failed
apparatus of security and policing and dedicating its vast
wasted budget to community strengthening measures, creating
strong, independent, proud, organised, politicised and
educated communities.

We cannot say yes to policing for short-term political
gain. We must put forward a completely different, multi-
faceted, long-term and transparent strategy. We must seek
investment in and encouragement of preventative measures.
We must expose state ineptitude and unwillingness to deal
with the root causes of crime and also the real remit of
police forces.

The debate that has begun is too narrow. We must not allow
ourselves to enter the debate at this level. This is not a
decision that can be taken within the narrow confines of
reform or Patten or on a quid pro quo basis in
negotiations. No one in the country is unaffected by this
issue therefore no one should be left out of the decision
making process.

We should rise above the media hype and state promoted
hysteria. If we have political strength and political
support, this is where we have to use it. We have an
obligation to consult with, inform and then act on behalf
of those people. We must give ownership of the policing
question to society itself and allow the stakeholders to
express what they would find acceptable - Hopefully a new
and revolutionary social justice system.

Let us begin to collate their views and inform them of our
own and move forward in a real debate about policing.

"Those who own your lands will make your laws and command
your liberties and your lives." James Fintan Lalor

Related Link:


Blog: Times, They Are A Changing Or Are They?

The musings of a closer to 50 than 40 year old.

On Northern Ireland

So was it a historic moment or not? In a very brief TV news
clip the Rev Ian Paisley DUP Leader directly addressed the
Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams even to the point of advising
him on his scholarly studies to gain a better understanding
of Presbyterianism and perhaps more in keeping with his
role as a member of the clergy and saver of souls
encouraging Gerry to read the bible. While Gerry appeared
to find the engagement in the main amusing at times the
dialogue also appeared to have a serious side when the
thorny issue of policing was raised. Gerry like the rest of
us knows that the question of Sinn Fein’s full engagement
with the PSNI and signing up to Policing and the Justice
system has for some time not been a question of if but when
and if devolution is to be re-established then he must make
it happen quickly.

The engagement also raised questions for many regarding the
DUP’s policy of No No Never over the last 35 years. While
the hard line has no doubt contributed to the DUP’s
overtaking the UUP in the electoral polls many are also
asking did it give Sinn Fein the time to organise and co-
ordinate their political strategy which led to their
establishment as the largest Nationalist/Republican party
driving the more moderate SDLP into second place.

Did the Rev Paisley’s opposition which helped kill off the
Sunningdale Agreement - the 1970s equivalent of the
Northern Ireland Assembly and the Good Friday Agreement and
subsequent opposition to any form of power sharing with
moderate nationalists lead us to the situation today were
the DUP will enter into a power sharing agreement with Sinn
Fein, a party with clear links to one of the most dangerous
terrorist organisation of modern times.

Would Sunningdale have brought an earlier peaceful solution
to the N I conflict if such strong opposition had not been
mobilised which led to its collapse?

If Sunningdale had been allowed a chance would it have
brought us to a more fair and just society without the 30
odd years of violent conflict?

Would the IRA have gained such strong support within
Republican and nationalist communities if people had a
viable political alternative?

Would the violence have happened anyway?

Did the policy of NO NO Never build the resolve of the pro
union community not to be bullied into a United Ireland and
give them a stronger position at the negotiating table?

Just a few of the many questions which if you can answer
may make you “a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

On another but related train of thought Professor Sir
George Bain published the report of the Independent
Strategic Review of Education which states that “There are
too many schools with too few pupils”.

This is just another example of an outcome of our conflict
and our need to duplicate services and infrastructure. In
some cases schools from the State and Catholic Maintained
sectors have been separated by a road yet the pupils where
not provided with opportunities to engage with each other
or to share the all too few resources.

In our more peaceful society it is time to drive forward
change and look to find methods to share the resources and
facilities and give children opportunities to work together
and learn more of each other dispelling the myths that
still abound. There are many models of good practice which
can be replicated which do not compromise or inhibit the
ability to education children in the aspects of the faith
they are born into. The financial saving alone will surely
provide government with an opportunity to provide a better
education for all our children.

My one concern would be that the rationalisation will lead
to the demise of more rural schools.

Perhaps the powers that be will realise the link between
planning for rural areas and the rural schools service and
we will see land in the area of rural schools zoned for
responsible development to ensure their security rather
than trying to drive our children into centralised urban


Blog: Omagh Hopes For Inclusive Day Of Reflection

Cllr Seán Begley, the Sinn Fein Chair of Omagh District
Council, hopes that every section of the community will be
represented at Sunday’s “Day of Reflection” event at the
Grange Park Council grounds at 2pm at which all those who
have died as a result of war and conflict from the locality
will be remembered.

Speaking about the event Cllr Begley said,

“There has been an extremely positive response to the
invites that have been extended to local community and
civic sector groups from throughout the District to attend
Sunday’s “Day of Reflection.

This positive response is, I believe, a growing
acknowledgement from within the community that all
inclusive events like this have an important part to play
in the healing and reconciliation process.

“I believe that the message that goes out from unique
events such as this is that it acknowledges that the
suffering and pain of all those who have been bereaved as a
result of conflict is the same and that we must all work
collectively to ensure that we will never again allow
political difference to plunge our communities into
conflict and despair.

“The ceremony will include the laying of a floral tribute
along and music and reflective readings and I hope for
widespread community participation, including people from
the various ethnic communities who are such an integral
part of the fabric of our community in Omagh District.


Blog: Ógra Sfmeet With South African Leader

On Monday (4 December), Ógra Shinn Féin held an internal
activist meeting in Belfast with South African Intelligence
Minister Ronnie Kasrils.

Ronnie was a former Director of Intelligence for the
military arm of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), is a
member of the Communist Party and ANC, and was appointed to
his present Ministerial role in 2004.

Ronnie spoke at length of the importance of youth in any
liberation struggle, recalling his involvement in the
struggle in South Africa as a teenager. He spoke candidly
about his involvement with the ANC, the MK and also related
his progression from a guerrilla fighter to minister

“I still miss my AK – 47, but you can’t exactly be a
government minister and have and AK strapped around

The activist meeting raised many issues including racism,
policing, international solidarity, transition to power,
outreach, and truth and reconciliation.

Barry McColgan, National Organiser of Ógra Shinn Féin said,

“The meeting was extremely thought provoking and
inspirational, many people have read or watched
documentaries about the South African Struggle, but we
learned a first hand account through Ronnie.”

“You don’t get an opportunity to meet with a Revolutionary
Leader everyday, and so obviously Ógra used the time
effectively to equip ourselves with the vast knowledge and
experience of Ronnie Kasrils.”

“From the meeting it was clear that South Africa will
continue to support Sinn Féin and Ógra in achieving our
objectives in Ireland, we are two nations involved in one


Judge To Decide Derry Name Issue

06 December 2006 12:34

A judge in Belfast is being asked to settle the long-
running controversy over the name of Northern Ireland's
second largest city.

Derry or Londonderry is the issue to be decided at the High
Court by Mr Justice Weathorup.

Derry City council is seeking a declaration requiring the
British Government and Northern Ireland's Department of
Environment to recognise and accept the council's view that
the name of the city is Derry.

The Department has suggested that such a change would
require a petition to the British Sovereign to amend the
name established in a Royal Charter granted by Britain's
King James 1 in 1613.

A lawyer for Derry Council, Michael Lavery QC, said the
Council's view was that the Royal Charter had been amended
by, and was subject to, the provisions of local government

He said as a consequence, 'when the name of the council
changed to Derry in 1984, the name of the city established
by charter changed and therefore it is unnecessary to
petition the Sovereign in order to do so'.


Books - All About The Gunrunning Fad

It takes a special kind of author to follow the
vicissitudes of events that, by their nature, have to be
covert. Take, gunrunning, for instance.

Sean Boyne, a journalist with the new defunct, 'Irish
Press' had an interest in the subject from away back and
in: 'Gunrunners: The Covert Arms Trail to Ireland', he
gives us a colourful and absorbing of the stuff that
authors like Freddie Forsyth ('The Day of the Jackal")
would give their eye tooth for. The paperback runs to 475
pages and contains a terrific glossary and an inventory of
the known shipments delivered to Ireland on the back of
cash paid in advance and, as noted, mostly seized at source
or on arrival at airport, port or off shore.

But, not content with relying on Court reports or on his
own recollections - he was in the Dail the night that an
exasperated Taoiseach, Jack Lynch sacked two of his
Ministers, Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney. He had earlier
requested them, under pressure from the media et alii, 'not
to do it again'. But, the media et alii wanted blood, and
they got it, but they did not get an admission of guilt
from either.

The reader can judge for himself/herself, but what is fact
is that the initial meeting for a (Irish) State-sponsored
arms' shipment from north to south was held, we are told,
in the late Gerry Fitt's house in Belfast, in Seotember,

Key figure

A key figure there was an Irish Army intelligence officer,
Captain James Kelly. For those with a need of local detail,
evidence was given at the subsequent Arms Trial that the
plan was to store the arms in Kilnacrott Abbey in County
Cavan. This was confirmed to a journalist by a member of
the Norbertines who were based there, who stated
emphatically to Captain Kelly that he wanted nothing to do
with their scheme. 'The priest was horrified', the author
tells us.

Put simply, the need for arms grew steadily among
Nationalists as they became ghettoised by the British Army
and picked off by Loyalists who, they suspected, had more
than easy acess to legally held weapons.

Given the close familial links with America, post the 1840
Famine, the US seemed the natural shopping centre for
weapons, and there was no shortage of people willing to
help. Not least among them was a man by the unlikely name
of George Harrison. He was a native of Mayo who emigrated
just before World War 2 but, as the author puts it,
'retained an almost religious devotion to the Irish
Republican cause'.

Back home, two key members of the Provisional IRA, both now
deceased, Daithi O'Connaill and Sean keenan (Derry) were
about to go shopping, via the Atlantic.

Harrison did indeed manage to get some firearms to Ireland
in 1970, mainly handguns but, to be fair to Harrison, he
queried some unexplained killings carried out by the IRA,
among them Jean McConville (1972) and the massacre of 10
Protestant workmen at Kingsmill, Armagh (1976), 'possibly
by rifles supplued by Harrison's own network'.

But, he appeared to have been pacified and undertook to
equip the IRA with Armalites and M-16 rifles. His wasn't
the only group involved in gunrunning in the US, but it was
considered the most security conscious in the 1970's.

That scenario would change in subsequent decades as British
diplomats put pressure on Washington to clean up their act,
but not before Harrison's people, using the QE2 liner, got
their supplies through. From Southampton, where the linner
berthed, the arms would be picked up by car and ferried to
Northern Ireland.

Finally, the US authorities move in and, as in England with
the Birmingham Five, etc, the US had the Fort Worth Five,
among them, Fermanagh man, Mattie Reilly. Other multiple
arrests followed on foot of other surveillance operations
following tip-offs.

But, Harrison was to continue scoring bulls eyes. The
author believes that six M-60's reached Ireland in the
Summer of 1977 and more, two years later. Properly used,
this weapon can bring down a helicopter.

It was via an indiscreet phone call that Harrison's
gunrunning days were ended, a call from a NI-based IRA man,
newly arrived in the US.

O'Connell, tiring of the US scene, switched his attentions
to the Continent but, by now, Special Branch and MI6 had
their tentacles everywhere, it seemed, and a sting
operation deprived the IRA not only of four tons of arms,
but money paid up front as well.

Succeeding chapters in the book are top heavy with the
word, 'infiltration', of, for instance, the Libyan arms
shipment on board the 'Claudia', the freighter, the 'Tower
Stream', the 'Marita Ann' and 'The Valhalla', as well as
cars on board Continental ferries. Names such as Donna
Maguire and Gerry Kelly, (the current Sinn Fein negotiator)
leap from the pages, the latter one of three who Dutch
Police swooped on in January 1986 in an apartment in
Amsaterdam. There, in front of the flat, they allegedly
found 40 weapons.

And, so this racy diary-like thriller rattles along,
introducing us to larger than life characters, career types
such as Louis Stephens who headed the FBI's PIRA Squad ('he
valued his Irish heritage ut hated what the IRA were
doing'), and Gerry McGeough, the IRA gunner of Florida,
1982 fame.

But, come the mid-80's, the Provisionals had raised the
stakes. They had the idea that if they could acquire
'jammers' that would prevent British Army radio operators
preventing bombs detonating prematurely, that this would be
the endgame.

Sadly, it proved to be the endgame for them, and there was
no bigger capture than Churchill, County Monaghan-born
Peter Eamon Maguire. Blessed with a brilliant brain that
secured him highly-paid jobs in the aeronautics industry in
the US, he too wanted to help the cause and was caught in
the act.


For a while, IRA Volunteers scored notable hits at well
over a mile away with the Barrett Light Fifty, but its life
too was to be cut short, not long after the killing of one
of the last British Army victims of the 'Troubles', Lance
Bombardier Stephen Restorick in 1997. A SAS raid on an
Armagh farm led to more arrests.

The author then turns his attention to Loyalist gunrunning,
mostly from South Africa and, in particular, Canada and
where some notable 'hits' were made by the Mounties and,
interestingly, a full account of Judge Barron's Report on
the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

One 'sting' operation centred on a group that included the
notorious John White, a mate of Johnny Adair which was
found to have £350,00 in their possession. The Loyalists
too had their own George Harrison to buy through, Bill
Taylor, a Canadian citizen who too was to have his collar

This is a fascinating real-life account of events that the
'Troubles' created and which, in turn, led to situations
with fatal consequences for some and long-lasting
repercussions for many. The arms' trade, one feels, won't
ever end as long as there is a demand, whether it's for a
'noble, political call' or greed.

This well-researched book, 'Gunrunners: The Covert Arms
Trail to Ireland', by Sean Boyne, is published by O'Brien
and is now available at £13.99 from Eason's Bookstore,


'While Mem'ry Brings Us Back Again' Is Launched In NY

(left to right) Julia Doyle of Clogh, county Kilkenny,
Bridget "Bridie" Glendon of Letterkenny, county Donegal,
and Frances Browner, editor of 'While Mem'ry Brings Us Back
Again', published by the Aisling Irish Community Center in
Yonkers, New York. The book, launched at the Irish
Consulate in New York, documents the experiences of 35 men
and women who left Ireland for America between the years of
1927 and 1964. Julia Doyle, who lives in The Bronx, New
York, emigrated in 1951 from Clogh, Co Kilkenny. (Photo
credit: John Mooney)

Book documents the memories of immigrants who arrived in
New York from 1927 – 1964

The Aisling Irish Community Center in New York has launched
'While Mem’ry Brings Us Back Again', a book recounting the
personal histories of 35 Irish immigrants who arrived in
America between 1927-1964.

One of these people was Julia Doyle of Clogh, county
Kilkenny. Her memoirs are recorded in the book which was
launched last week. She emigrated to New York after she and
her sisters tossed a coin in Trafalger Square in London.
She ended up in New York while they both travelled to
Australia. Her memories of this difficult time are recorded
and preserved forever in this publication which was
commissioned by the Aisling Center in New York.

The idea for the book arose when Frances Browner, organizer
of the Aisling Center’s spirited Friday “Young at Heart”
group, suggested a creative writing workshop. She simply
asked participants in the sessions to start writing down
their memories of coming to the US and how they built their
lives here.

For their first assignment, the trigger phrase was: I

I remember the first time I saw myself in the mirror . . .

I remember my first day at school . . .

I remember the awful snowstorm of 1947 . . .

I remember coming to America on the boat . . .

The last suggestion ignited a torrent of recollections from
around the table – “I came on the SS America; the SS
Washington; the Britannica; the Olympia; the Queen
Elizabeth; the SS United States.”

The result is a moving 295-page publication that chronicles
the extraordinary stories of ordinary people who made the
journey from their homeland in search of a better life.

Available via, 'While Mem’ry Brings
Us Back Again' details first impressions of America, the
social life, the beach at Rockaway, and vacations in the
Catskills. The immigrants recall their childhoods and the
families, villages, towns, and parishes they left behind.

“Far from their families, friends and everything they were
used to, everyone of them overcame homesickness and the
challenges of a new world and built fine lives for
themselves in this great country,” said Tim O’Connor,
Consul General of Ireland and host of the evening. “These
stories will delight, absorb and uplift you. They also
underline again the amazing story of the Irish in America
and just how good this country has been to millions of our
people. “

They remember first jobs in Schrafft’s restaurants, the New
York Telephone Company, and B Altman’s. Dance halls such as
the Jaeger House, City Center, and the Tuxedo Ballroom come
back to life in this very special publication. Sundays at
Gaelic Park are vividly recaptured, as is the magnificence
of a long ago Fordham Road and The Grand Concourse.

“A story does not need to have an elaborate plot,
intricate language or sophisticated vocabulary,” said
Frances Browner, who organised the project, interviewed the
subjects and compiled the book. “A story should simply come
from the heart. All of these memoirs come from the hearts
of the people who lived them.”

Eileen Moran, who emigrated from Cork City in 1951,
movingly recaptured the heartbreak of leaving family behind
and beginning her life in a new country:

"I wonder if my mother ever missed having me around when
she got sick. Did she regret sending me off that day, her
little girl in ankle socks, on a journey from which I would
never return."

“I was transported back 50 years and plunged into a place
that was already forgotten by the time of my own arrival in
1987,” Browner added. “Why did I not know all this before?
Putting this book together may help keep these memories
alive for future generations of Irish Americans to know
what it was like to be a new arrival.”

With the publishing of 'While Mem’ry Brings Us Back Again'
the memories once in danger of being lost have been
preserved forever. The book is available for a donation of
$20.00 plus $5.95 shipping & handling by visiting or send a check to Aisling Center,
990 McLean Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704. The proceeds will
support the Aisling Center’s community outreach programmes.


Long Lost Paul Henry Painting Sold

A valuable painting discovered by chance on the BBC's
Antiques Roadshow programme has fetched €260,000 at a
Dublin auction.

Dooega Achill Island, Co Mayo by Ulster artist Paul Henry
reached almost four times its pre-sale guide price at the
Important Irish Art Sale at James Adam.

The painting, which depicts the rugged landscape of the
Atlantic Ocean island, was among 170 works that went under
the hammer at the St Stephen`s Green saleroom.

The auction house would not say who bought the artwork
which attracted brisk bidding from several collectors.

The painting had been in the seller`s family since the
1920s and was only discovered when valued on the BBC
Antiques Roadshow at Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire, in
the summer.

Described by BBC valuer Mark Politmore as one of the most
exciting pictures he had ever seen on a roadshow, he valued
the work at €60,000 which matched the pre-sale guide price.


Pacino To Honour Van The Man

Van Morrison is to be honoured by Al Pacino at one of the
hottest pre-Academy Awards parties in Los Angeles in

The event, officially called; Oscar Wilde:Honouring Irish
Writing in Film, will see Pacino introduce the singing
legend, of whom he is a great admirer.

According to event organiser Trina Vargo of the Us-Ireland
Alliance, "Al agreed to participate because he is a great
friend and fan of Van`s."

"Its an added bonus that he also has a great interest in
Ireland and the namesake of our event".

Belfast-born writer/director Terry George, who wrote Hotel
Rwanda, will also be honoured on the night.

The Republic`s Minister of Art John O`Donoghue has paid
tribute to both men.

"Van Morrison and Terry George are exemplary cultural
representatives of this island, both using the great gifts
of lyrics and words - in song and script - telling Irish
stories that have universal appeal."

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