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December 06, 2006

No SF Ardfheis Until Policing Devolution Date Settled

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 12/07/06 SF Has No Plans To Call Ardfheis On Policing
UT 12/06/06 DUP And SF Set To Lock Horns Over Legislation
UU 12/06/06 Empey: On Partition Annvrsry Unionist Proud
GB 12/06/06 Blog: Bigots Raise Ugly Head Again
BB 12/06/06 Bishops Attack Schools Proposals
SF 12/06/06 Gerry Adams Meets Family Of Charlie Armstrong
IE 12/06/06 Victory In Sight: Schumer Commits To Reform
IT 12/07/06 Taxes Dominate Budget;Pensions & Welfare Rise
RS 12/06/06 The Irish And Their Pubs - A Dangerous Liaison
BC 12/06/06 DVD Review: Destroy All Rational Thought
NW 12/06/06 'The Brookeborough Raid' Recalled
IE 12/06/06 Ray Flynn To Lead New York Parade
TM 12/06/06 Jim Coogan – RIP


SF Has No Plans To Call Ardfheis On Policing

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin said it has no plans to call an imminent special
ardfheis on policing notwithstanding comments about such a
conference by DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

The North Belfast MP said last night speculation was
mounting that Sinn Féin may be considering calling an ard
chomhairle meeting followed by an ardfheis on policing. He
said unionists would be watching carefully for evidence of
real change from republicans.

Mr Dodds, who is perceived as one of the DUP's St Andrews
Agreement sceptics, expressed suspicion about whatever
action Sinn Féin took on the issue. "Sinn Féin as always
will play the game of attracting maximum press and media
exposure," he said.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said there was no plan to call either
a special ardchomhairle or ardfheis on policing. He said
the position remained as outlined by the party president
Gerry Adams that neither an ardchomhairle nor ardfheis
would be called until issues such as when policing and
justice powers would be devolved to a Northern Executive
were settled.


DUP And SF Set To Lock Horns Over Legislation

The DUP have been accused of whipping up dangerous
homophobia as a new row flared over plans to stop hotels
and guesthouses banning same-sex couples.

By:Press Association

Sinn Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane hit out at the party as she
pledged to lead opposition in a debate at Stormont next

A motion tabled by DUP Assembly members Jeffrey Donaldson
and George Dawson is urging the British government to
withdraw its Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
until a fully restored Assembly can take a decision.

The planned legislation is a move against landlords or
hotel owners being able to refuse accommodation or deny
double beds on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Ms Ruane claimed: "The DUP know that this motion not only
undermines the equality and human rights agenda but will
also stir up the type of homophobic sentiment that leads to
discrimination and violence.

"That they appear determined to do so for political gain is

"That any political party, particularly one that would
share the leadership of the Office of First and Deputy
First Minister which is responsible for such issues, would
seek to make political gain out of bigotry is a disgrace.

"People in the gay and lesbian community should not have to
take this bullying alone, it is essential that across
political and civic society and human rights groups that we
stand together to protect and promote the rights of all.

"This motion from the DUP is clearly homophobic in
intention and retrograde in nature because the outlawing of
discrimination in goods and services against people because
of their sexual orientation should be a shared objective."

But a DUP spokesman claimed Secretary of State Peter Hain
was introducing the regulations in Northern Ireland ahead
of the rest of the UK.

He added that the Christian views of guesthouse owners also
had to be taken into consideration.

"Why are all these things done with the view of one
particular section of society, ignoring another section
which holds a point of view based on faith and morality?"

However, Mr Donaldson rejected Sinn Fein`s allegations,
questioning why they would prefer Westminster to rule on
the issue.

The Lagan Valley MLA also stressed the case was about the
planned legislation`s impact on churches and religious
groups should a gay group attempt to hire out a hall.

"This motion is certainly not homophobic," he insisted.

"It`s about religious freedom and the rights of churches
and religious organisations in Northern Ireland to offer
services without being subjected to legal challenges and
unfounded allegations of discrimination."

Mr Donaldson also claimed to have the support of people on
both sides of the religious divide.

"This includes people within the Roman Catholic Church who
are fearful of the implications of these regulations if
they are implemented.

"This is a matter that ought to be dealt with by the

"I cannot understand why Sinn Fein don`t understand the key
issues that the Assembly should legislate, and not
Westminster, so the legislation fully reflects the views in
Northern Ireland.

"I thought Sinn Fein were a devolutionist party, yet it
seems after all that they may well be happy with British


On Anniversary Of Partition, Empey Says Unionism Should Be
Proud Of Its Achievements

Posted By Sir Reg Empey MLA On 6th December 2006 @ 20:33

On the 85th Anniversary of partition UUP Leader Sir Reg
Empey said that having negotiated an end to articles 2 and
3, forced Sinn Fein to accept Stormont and a partitionist
settlement, the task of Unionism will be to secure the
final transition of Republicanism to exclusively peaceful
means without handing them a veto over devolution.

In a statement Sir Reg said,

“In 1921 the fact that six counties in Ulster which
constitute Northern Ireland remained part of the UK was a
testament to the efforts of the Ulster Unionist Council who
defeated successive home rule bills and secured Northern
Ireland’s place within the union against not only the
treachery of politicians but an attempted Republican
campaign of intimidation.

In 2006 it is clear that Sinn Fein, as evidenced by Gerry
Adams’ condescending speech in the Assembly on Monday, have
lost the argument on Policing.

They have decisively lost the battle on Policing just as
they lost the argument on partition and articles 2 and 3.
If they wish to participate in mainstream politics they
must support the rule of law, both North and South. This is
the harsh reality they face and they must get on with it.
Normality and stability in Northern Ireland require nothing


Blog: Bigots Raise Ugly Head Again

I see that the DUP are trying to stop equality legislation
from being passed that would stop landlords and hotels
refusing people on the grounds of sexual orientation.

A motion tabled by DUP Assembly members Jeffrey Donaldson
and George Dawson is urging the British government to
withdraw its Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
until a fully restored Assembly can take a decision.

Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane hit out at the DUP stance and
pledged to lead opposition in a debate at Stormont next

"The DUP know that this motion not only undermines the
equality and human rights agenda but will also stir up the
type of homophobic sentiment that leads to discrimination
and violence. "

"That they appear determined to do so for political gain is

"That any political party, particularly one that would
share the leadership of the Office of First and Deputy
First Minister which is responsible for such issues, would
seek to make political gain out of bigotry is a disgrace."

"People in the gay and lesbian community should not have to
take this bullying alone, it is essential that across
political and civic society and human rights groups that we
stand together to protect and promote the rights of all."

"This motion from the DUP is clearly homophobic in
intention and retrograde in nature because the outlawing of
discrimination in goods and services against people because
of their sexual orientation should be a shared objective."

I agree with Catriona

It reminds me about the times when the signs read "No
Dog's, No Black's, No Irish"

In this day and age people are entitled to equal treatment
under the law. I know that the DUP constantly hark on about
Sinn Féin being unfit for government however I would beg to

It is the bigoted DUP who are unfit for goverment!


Bishops Attack Schools Proposals

The Catholic Church has attacked plans for changes in
education in Northern Ireland.

In a strongly-worded statement, the nine Northern Ireland
bishops said the changes would "radically undermine" the
Catholic education system.

The bishops were responding to detailed documents on how
the new structures of administration will work.

The changes include removing powers from the Council for
Catholic Maintained Schools.

The bishops were considering draft policy papers on the
creation of new structures under the Review of Public
Administration (RPA).

They said they could not accept proposals which "pose a
serious threat to the right of parents to choose a Catholic

"The proposals will radically undermine a long-cherished
Catholic education system which has been recognised for the
strength of its distinctiveness and the richness of its
tradition and diversity as contributing to the raising of
school standards and the promotion of a culture of
tolerance and understanding," they said.

The bishops said their power to influence their own schools
would be diminished with all powers handed to a new
Education and Skills Authority and the Department of

"We are satisfied that we have made every effort to engage
positively with government and the Department of Education
to develop arrangements in the best interests of all the
educational partners, and which would provide quality
education for all the children of Northern Ireland.

"On this occasion, however, we feel compelled to say that
we cannot in conscience commend these proposals to parents,
teachers and all involved in Catholic education."

The department said it had consulted with the bishops and
other bodies involved.

"The latest set of RPA policy papers was drafted following
positive and constructive engagement with stakeholders, and
they were invited to submit further views or comments on
these papers by mid January 2007," it said.

"The department intends to hold meetings with each group
before then when there will be full opportunity to discuss
the concerns raised."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/06 20:45:28 GMT


Gerry Adams Meets Family Of Charlie Armstrong

Published: 6 December, 2006

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP today met the family of
Charlie Armstrong, the Crossmaglen man who went missing in

The IRA has denied any involvement in his disappearance.
Mr. Adams said:

"I want to repeat my call for anyone with information about
Charlie Armstrong to bring it forward to me, to the family
or to any other agency they have confidence in.

"Sinn Féin is continuing with our efforts to bring closure
for those families whose loved ones were killed and their
bodies secretly buried by the IRA in the 1970s.

"Christmas is a particularly difficult time for all the
families and our thoughts and prayers are with them." ENDS


Victory In Sight: Schumer Commits To Reform Push In '07

By Ray O'Hanlon

Thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants who have endured
a roller coaster year in the national immigration reform
debate can look forward to a concerted effort to push a
comprehensive reform bill through Congress in the New Year.

That was the message that hundreds of cheering Irish took
away from a rally in the Bronx last Friday night organized
by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and addressed by
Senator Charles Schumer, Representative Anthony Weiner and
former congressman Bruce Morrison.

During his address to the crowd packed into St. Barnabas
church hall -- scene earlier this year of a similar event
fronted by Sen. John McCain -- Schumer went so far as to
proclaim "tiocfaidh ár lá (our day will come) -- for years
a rallying cry for Irish republicans and a statement long
viewed by Irish people in general as a pledge of a positive
and desired result.

The significance of Schumer's words, frequently interrupted
by applause and cheering from a crowd mostly decked out in
"Legalize The Irish" t-shirts, is compounded by the fact
that New York's senior senator has emerged from the recent
midterm elections as one of the most powerful figures in
the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill.

And though his speech to what was a friendly, home state
crowd, sounded like just that, experienced observers in the
room were in broad agreement that Schumer has the clout to
set in motion a debate geared towards producing the kind of
comprehensive reform bill that would secure President
Bush's required signature.

A successful outcome to that debate, it was stated more
than once to a gathering that included Irish diplomatic
representatives, would depend on the bipartisan nature of a
final bill.

That reality, however, did not prevent Schumer from taking
a few distinctly partisan swipes at those Republicans in
the outgoing 109th Congress who had worked against reform
and had campaigned against it in the months before election

"The last time I spoke to you, said Schumer, "the
Republican leadership was playing cheap games with
immigration reform. Now they are in the minority and
Schumer and Weiner are in the majority," he said to
thunderous cheering and applause.

The response from the audience was typical on an evening
that witnessed a new surge of hope coursing through an ILIR
campaign that has had its high points and more pessimistic
moments since the group was formally launched in a midtown
Manhattan hotel a year ago this week.

Schumer was led into the hall - which also serves as a
venue for Mass at St. Barnabas, a parish that straddles the
Bronx and Yonkers - by two pipers who had to duel it out in
the raising the rafters stakes with a crowd that broke into
a loud and prolonged chant of Olé Olé Olé.

Not surprisingly, Schumer would soon respond by proclaiming
his love for the Irish and his belief that the more Irish
America had living in it the better America was.

Schumer singled out for particular praise "my mentor," the
late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Paul O'Dwyer and
Frank Durkan, who had passed away just a few days before
the rally.

"There's no better way to honor Frank than do what we are
doing tonight. We know Frank's spirit is hovering over this
hall tonight," Schumer said.

Schumer's address was both a broad assessment of the
positive contribution of immigration to the United States,
a particular salute to the history of Irish immigration
and, most crucially, an endorsement of the view that the
only way of dealing with the current immigration crisis was
by way of a comprehensive reform bill crafted in

Schumer described the midterm congressional elections as a
"watershed." He said that as a result of the election the
"blockade" against reform had been lifted.

Senate Democrats, he said, would work to ensure what would
be a second passage for the bipartisan McCain/Kennedy bill
in the 110th Congress.

"We're ready and we're going to pass it," he said.

Senator Harry Reid, now the Senate's majority leader, had
indicated that a reform bill would be a top priority and
introducing McCain/Kennedy to the incoming Congress would
be one of his party's first acts, Schumer said.

"And we're going to welcome Republican colleagues who
turned from hatred with open arms. Immigration is not a
Democratic issue or a Republican issue but an American
issue." Schumer said.

Speaking directly to the crowd, his voice rising, Schumer
said that they had waited long enough and had campaigned
long enough.

"Tiocfaidh ár lá," Schumer roared and the room erupted. He
repeated the phrase over and over as the crowd rose to its

He said that an agreed reform bill would, of necessity,
include employer sanctions and greater border security but
would also be a measure that would allow people to come to

It would, he said, be a fair bill, a balanced bill, a human
and rational bill, a good bill.

The "absurdly nasty" and "punitive" Sensenbrenner House of
Representatives bill was now gone," Schumer said.

"You killed it, immigrants killed it, people of conscience
around the country killed it."

The bill that would replace the Sensenbrenner measure,
Schumer stated, would be fair and balanced.

"We're going to do it and do it right and we're not going
to compromise our principles," the senator said.

There had to be an "adequate supply" of visas but it would
not come with the snap of a finger. Rather, it would happen
as a result of dedication and hard work, love of America
"and your heritage and by uniting with your immigrant
brothers and sisters."

The issues surrounding immigration reform were many and
complex, Schumer said.

"But they can be solved. So let's go forth and solve them
together and let's not forget, tiocfaidh ár lá."

Schumer was the keynote speaker in an evening of many
speakers. They included ILIR chairman Niall O'Dowd, vice
chairman Ciaran Staunton, the group's executive director
Kelly Fincham and its president, Grant Lally.

The theme of praising the immigrant contribution to America
was taken up by Congressman Weiner who spoke after Schumer
and for whom he once worked as a congressional aide.

Weiner, pointing to a group of kids sitting on steps just
to his left, said that they would grow up in a better
America and that America would be better "because we
legalized the Irish."

Bruce Morrison, a veteran of the immigration issue, said it
was "wonderful" that Schumer was committed and
understanding and that the reform job was going to get

"You've got a great leader on your team in Senator
Schumer," Morrison said.

He said that one lesson that he learned during the reform
battle of the 1980s and '90s was that people who were
really organized and committed would not take no for

"And you have already shown in twelve months that you are
not going away," Morrison said to loud applause.

Morrison said that the undocumented Irish could trust
Schumer and Weiner and what they were pledging to do.

"You can take it to the bank but you have to help them
carry in to the bank," he said.

ILIR will in fact be taking it to Boston and several other
cities in the meantime Friday night's gathering was also
told by ILIR's Niall O'Dowd and Grant Lally that Washington
and its legislators would be a priority for action in
January when the new Congress meets.

It was left to vice chairman Ciaran Staunton to deliver the
night's final rally cry.

"From the ashes of Sensenbrenner/King rose the Irish
community and we're never turning back," he said.

This story appeared in the issue of December 6 - 12, 2006


Tax Changes Dominate Budget As Pensions And Welfare Rise

A €1.25 billion package of tax changes, including a one
percentage point cut in the top rate, an increase in tax
credits and a widening of tax bands, was the central
feature of the Budget announced yesterday by the Minister
for Finance. Stephen Collins , Political Correspondent,

As expected, there were also substantial increases in
pension and welfare payments. Mr Cowen increased the
contributory pension to €209.30 a week, while the non-
contributory pension will be €200 from next January.

Mr Cowen also substantially increased tax relief on
mortgage interest for first-time house buyers, including
people who bought their first homes within the last seven
years as well as future buyers. But he did not make any
changes in stamp duty, arguing that any reduction would end
up in the pocket of the seller rather than the buyer.

The Minister told the Dáil that a couple with a joint
mortgage of up to €379,000 over 33 years at an interest
rate of 4.5 per cent would gain up to €1,600 extra a year
in mortgage interest relief directly credited against their
mortgage bill. Single people would gain up to €800 a year.

There was a clawback on high-income earners with an
increase of half a percentage point in the health levy to
2.5 per cent on their earnings in excess of €100,100 a

A 25 per cent increase in the charge for private hospital
beds will inevitably feed into higher VHI payments for
middle-income earners in the coming year.

Mr Cowen announced that the top rate of income tax would
come down by another one percentage point next year if the
coalition was re-elected. This point was later emphasised
by Tánaiste Michael McDowell, who denied that PD concerns
had been largely ignored in a Fianna Fáil-style Budget.

Mr McDowell said he was happy with the Budget and had
agreed with Mr Cowen and the Taoiseach that the best way to
help first-time house buyers was through extra mortgage
interest relief.

"What Brian Cowen and myself and the Taoiseach agreed was
that it would be better to do it over two years. We don't
want to set off inflationary pressures on the economy at
this stage when things are going so well, but the
commitment is there."

One of the few surprises in the Budget was the hike of 50
cent in a packet of 20 cigarettes, which now brings the
price to over €7. Mr Cowen said it was a public health
measure and he expressed the hope that the social partners
would agree to some or all of the increase being discounted
in the inflation figures.

Mr Cowen told the Dáil that his Budget would reward work by
reducing the tax burden for all. It would support
pensioners, the disabled and those in need and help young
families and first-time buyers. "I am satisfied that in the
present economic circumstances, this Budget is fiscally
sustainable, economically appropriate and socially
responsible," he said.

The main Opposition parties attacked the Minister's
approach to taxation and accused him of rigging the figures
in an effort to disguise the fact that the Government had
failed to honour its commitment that only 20 per cent of
taxpayers would be left on the top rate.

They also maintained that the tax relief for first-time
buyers would be nullified by the interest rate increase
expected to be announced by the European Central Bank

Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton said: "The
Minister has changed the basis of his calculations to
disguise the fact that 31 per cent of taxpayers will be
paying at the higher 41 per cent rate next year. That means
that 235,000 people have been let down by a Government that
has failed to honour a clear commitment."

Mr Bruton said that one-income families had been betrayed
by the Government as, for the sixth year in a row, there
was nothing in the tax code for the spouse working in the

"People caring for their children in the home are being
airbrushed out of the tax code."

Labour's finance spokeswoman, Joan Burton, said that
serious injustices had been inflicted on those who were
being forced to pay the higher tax rate, plus PRSI on very
modest overtime payments or on bonuses or wage increases.

"This is a typical Fianna Fáil/PD Budget, a Budget for the
wealthy few, not the hardworking many.

"We have headline reductions in taxation which will be
welcomed by hard-pressed families, but the secret of the
tax code in Ireland remains the fact that tax is often for
the little people," she said.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said that for all the
revenue at his disposal, Mr Cowen had shown no real
awareness of the challenges facing Ireland from climate
change and peak global oil production.

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin welcomed
measures for those on low incomes, but said he "could have
done much much more if he had chosen to".

"The biggest problem with today's Budget is that once again
this Government has shown that they have absolutely no
strategy to address the core needs of ordinary people
whether it is in health, education or housing," he said.

Budget 2007: Main Points

The main points of yesterday's Budget outlined

• Top rate of income tax cut by one percentage point to 41
per cent.

• Personal tax credit increased by €130 to €1,760 for a
single person and by €260 a year to €3,520 for married

• The 20 per cent standard income tax band widened by
€2,000 per year to €34,000 for single person and €43,000
for married one-earner couples.

• Health levy increased by 0.5 of a percentage point to 2.5
per cent for earnings in excess of €100,100 a year.

• Stamp duty thresholds unchanged but mortgage interest
relief for first-time buyers doubled.

• Contributory old age pension increased by €16 a week to
€209.30. Non-contributory pension increases to €200

• Child benefit increased by €10 a month per child.

• Lowest adult rate of social welfare increased by €20 a
month to €185.80.

• Business Expansion and Seed Capital Schemes extended for
seven years.

• Charges for private beds in public hospitals increased by
25 per cent to fund service for elderly.

• Duty on packet of 20 cigarettes increased by 50 cent from
midnight. Restrictions on the sale of packets of less than
20 cigarettes.


The Irish And Their Pubs - A Dangerous Liaison

By Rebekka Edlund
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday December 6, 2006

By Rebekka Edlund, Cork, Ireland- "Vodka has the least
calories. I know because my friend who's real skinny, she
only drinks vodka and Diet Coke," says a 21-year-old female
university student in Cork, southern Ireland, as she leafs
through The Little Book of Women and Alcohol, a booklet
produced by the Irish health department. In Ireland,
alcohol can be said to be the drug of choice for many.
Social occasions from weddings to funerals tend to revolve
around the pub. As some experts demand a complete ban on
the advertising of alcohol, drink awareness campaigns try
to get people to drink less, but apparently with little

The health and safety of the population is at stake, but
with alcohol playing such a central role in Irish culture,
raising awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking is a
difficult task.

Sitting on a couch in a student residence in Cork are three
female university students aged 19, 20 and 21. The
television shows one of Ireland's current drink driving
awareness campaigns. "Know the one that's one too many" is
the slogan.

"In those ads there is only one person who's drunk and
everyone else is passing judgment. It's not like that when
you are out at all," says the 19-year-old from county

Michael Fitzgerald, 50, an elected councillor in county
Tipperary for Ireland's second largest party, Fine Gael,
recently admitted to regularly driving after drinking
"three or four pints." His public confession caused an
uproar and prompted his party to take steps to expel him.

The incident is particularly embarrassing for his party as
it recently called for zero tolerance of drink driving.
When even politicians publicly admit to drink driving,
knowing "the one that's one too many" seems difficult

With an average of 33 people dying in road accidents every
month, Ireland's road-death rate is about 50 per cent
higher than the average in western Europe.

A 2004 report by the Irish Strategic Task Force on Alcohol
estimates that alcohol is the cause of 40 per cent of road
deaths and 30 per cent of road accidents.

According to a 2006 European Union report, people in
Ireland spend a higher proportion of their income on
alcohol than any other EU country. The average Irish
household spends 1,675 euros (2,140 dollars) annually,
three times as much as the next country, Denmark (531

Another 2006 EU report on women's health, found that
Ireland has the highest percentage of female binge drinkers
in the EU. Sixteen per cent of Irish women admitted to
binge drinking at least once a week.

"Hang on a second - what are we defining as binge
drinking?" asks "Chana," an Irish Health website user in a
posted comment. "The usual mantra of 'more than 4 units'
that is sanctimoniously trotted out every time I hear about
binge drinking? That means that every woman who drinks two
pints and a short in a night is binge drinking? If that is
the case, their figures are, in my opinion, a farce."

According to the students, most girls they know drink a
"shoulder" of vodka, as the 350 ml bottle is called, before
they go out at night. It's cheaper to buy drink at the off-
licence than in the pubs, so girls aim for a good level of
inebriation before they even leave their house.

Braving the cold late autumn nights, they walk to the pubs
and clubs dressed in short skirts and skimpy tops, many
sipping drinks on the way.

However, the students interviewed by Deutsche Presse-
Agentur dpa said they drink comparatively little compared
to many of their peers - maybe six to seven bottles of beer
once or twice a week. They also occasionally drink vodka,
cider and wine.

Young men drink "way more," say the girls, "but they can
handle it."

A study comparing six other European countries in 2003
suggests that binge drinking is the norm for many in
Ireland. According to the study, 48 per cent of men and 16
per cent of women binge drink at least once week.

The statistics caused heated debate as many people feel
they are used to unfairly criticise Irish culture. One
Irish health website user asks, "At dinner yesterday
evening, I had a pre-dinner sherry, two glasses of wine
with dinner, followed by two after-dinner ports (five
drinks in all). Does this make me a binge drinker?"

Most people feel happier when they've had a few drinks and
tend to lose their inhibitions, but many also get rowdy,
start fights or lose control.

"Often it's a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," says a
student recently arrived in Dublin from South Africa.
"People have nice and well behaved personalities during the
day and then at night they start drinking and you cannot
believe your eyes."

Some problem drinkers fight on the streets, drink until
they vomit or have unprotected sex with strangers. In the
era of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases and in
a country where abortion is illegal, drink driving is not
the only threat to public health caused by excessive
alcohol consumption.

"The demand for emergency contraception (the "Morning
After" pill) has increased heavily over the last three
years, with alcohol consumption being a huge contributory
factor. We have also seen a dramatic increase in sexually-
transmitted infections," Alison Begas, chief executive of
the Well Woman Centre, is quoted as saying in the Women and
Alcohol booklet.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency


DVD Review: Destroy All Rational Thought

Written by Richard Marcus
Published December 06, 2006

Ireland has been home to artists who have fled its shores
to find room to breathe so that they could write clear of
the oppressive atmosphere of both the heavy hand of the
Catholic Church and the violence of their country's
politics. James Joyce landed in France and when the Germans
came he left to end his days of exile in Switzerland.

Before him Oscar Wilde descended upon London who loved him
until he was betrayed and forced into exile in Paris where
he died a broken and sad man. After Joyce the playwright
Samuel Beckett left Ireland for France, where aside from
chauffeuring Andre the Giant to and from school, he wrote
the masterpiece of existential theatre, Waiting For Godot

Ireland, the cold and clammy land of bogs and peat, appears
to be light years apart from the heat and desert sun of
Tangiers and the international zone of the fifties and the
sixties. But in 1992 the artistic current that birthed the
aforementioned luminaries extended its reach beyond its
borders to celebrate and remind the world of the work
produced in the land of sand, sun, and lawlessness.

From the end of World War Two to the time of independence
in the '60s Tangier was divided up into three zones. The
British had one, the French another, and the third was a
neutral buffer zone between the two called the
international zone. Nominally there was supposed to be some
sort of rule of law, but pretty much a blind eye was turned
to everything.

It became a Mecca for a couple types of people — artists
looking for an inexpensive and inspirational place to live
and those hangers-on who always seem to appear where
artists congregate, the rich and the thrill seekers who
like to pretend they live the bohemian life style. They
would "discover" an artist for a season and show him or her
off to their friends, dabble in the free flow of drugs, and
be delightedly shocked at the proliferation of both male
and female prostitutes.

But amidst the parties and the hedonism there were the
artists who were delving into the darkness that is so much
a part of contemporary man but is studiously ignored by all
but the brave and the insane. In some instances the line
between the two became so blurred as to be

The Here To Go Show in 1992 Dublin was a commemoration and
celebration of the life and work of two of the minds and
talents that were honed and refined in the hothouse
atmosphere of Tangiers — William S. Burroughs and Brion

While Burroughs is both famous for his writings, Naked
Lunch, and infamous for his addictions and lifestyle (Naked
Lunch was the synergy of both as it depicted his withdrawal
from heroin in prose that was both fragmented and potent),
Brion Gysin has nowhere near the same impact. The Here To
Go Show was an attempt to correct that lack of recognition.

Although Burroughs didn't attend the event, he agreed to
tape an interview that was broadcast at the opening of the
gathering. Judging by the content of the interview it
almost seems as though Burroughs saw this as one more
chance to try and ensure that his long time collaborator
and friend would receive some of the acclaim that he never
achieved during his lifetime and still was being denied
after his death.

The DVD Destroy All Rational Thought is an attempt to
document the happenings of the Here To Go Show. The focal
point of the show was an exhibit of Gysin's artwork with
pieces being contributed from private collections all over
the world, including those that Burroughs' owned. But Gysin
was more than just a man who painted static pictures to be
hung on the walls of galleries.

While the documentary does fill in some details of his life
— there are some fascinating clips from experimental films
he and Burroughs made in the sixties — very little actual
information about the man is imparted that will shed light
on his work. Ostensibly about him, it ends up being more
about the people involved with putting the show on and the
happenings and musical events that took place.

While the music of the Master Musicians of Joujouka from
Morocco was fascinating and absorbing, after a while I
began to wonder what repeated footage of them playing with
various Irish musicians in pubs, radio stations, and loft
parties had to do with the supposed subject of the event.
If the filmmakers have compiled an accurate picture of the
event, then the objective of spreading the word about Brion
Gysin seemed to be less important than the organizers
celebrating themselves.

I was reminded all too vividly of descriptions I've read in
the biography of Paul Bowles, The Dream At The End Of The
World by Michelle Green, of the various parties and what
not given by the dilletantes and hangers-on during the
original times in Tangiers. Although I'm sure there were
nights of music and impromptu poetry readings in those
times, the ones filmed from this event felt too contrived
to have any level of believable spontaneity.

Far too often while watching Destroy All Rational Thought I
found myself thinking that people were trying too hard to
establish their "cool" credentials instead of being
concerned about the art that was being displayed or the
artist himself. Did the Here To Go Show really have so
little to do directly with Brion Gysin? If not, why did
this documentary about the show have relatively little to
say about what was done specifically about Mr. Gysin? It
was as if the filmmakers had made the assumption that you
already knew about Gysin and explanations weren't needed
for more then a few of his ideas, and even then they were
just tantalizing tidbits.

While watching the movie there was something nagging at me
the whole way through that was disturbing me. I wasn't able
to put my finger on it until this moment as I was writing
this review and I realized what had led to my disquiet. Two
men who had openly spurned success and the limelight to be
as true to themselves and their art as possible were being
treated like celebrities. It wasn't because of the quality
of their work that they were being commemorated, but
because they were something that others wanted to emulate.

William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin were cut from the same
cloth as the men who had been born and bred in Ireland and
the city that was supposed to be celebrating them in 1992.
But like the Bloomsday events that now honour the memory of
James Joyce have more to do with Joyce the celebrity than
honouring his work, the documentary Destroy All Rational
Thought gives the same impression of the Here To Go Show in
regards to them.

If that was truly what the Here To Go Show was like then it
did two giants of the twentieth century a disservice. If
the creators of Destroy All Rational Thought has simply
created that impression from the way they've put the film
together, then they have lived up to their title for all
the wrong reasons.


'The Brookeborough Raid' Recalled

By Michael Breslin

Mention Feargal O'Hanlon and Sean South in any Nationalist
household from almost 50 years on, and even today, and
people become misty eyed at the thought of how two young
IRA men died after being fatally wounded in an attack on
Brookeborough Barracks New Year's Day, 1957. Their deaths
sparked off two immortal ballads,'Sean South from
Garryowen', and, 'The Patriot Game', and countless other

The remaining 12 made good their escape by trekking over
the mountains towards Monaghan, via Roslea, having
abandoned their two dying or dead comrades in a byre at
Altawark, and the lorry which they had used for the attack
and their getaway.

Those on the receiving end, and those related to them,
naturally, will have their own attitude and, likewise, the
then Catholic Bishop of Clogher, Dr O'Callaghan who,
speaking in Roslea the following day, told his flock that
it was a mortal sin to take part in any of the occurrences
(he was referring to the 1956 IRA campaign) that had taken
place recently.

However, in the eyes of, one would have to say, most
Nationalists the length and breadth of Ireland - O'Hanlon
was from Monaghan, South from Limerick - the two dead were
publicly honoured in death and went on to achieve iconic
status in posterity.

A new book: 'The Pearse Column & the Brookeborough Raid',
which hardly leave a stone unturned, has been put together
by the Feargal Ó hAnnluain and Seán Sabhat Commemorative
Committee. It will be launched this Friday night, 8th
December in the Donn Carragh Hotel, Lisnaskea, at 8 o'clock

A special gust will be Pádraigín Ui Mhúrchadha, Feargal's
sister, and the guest speaker will be Dr Ruan O'Donnell, a
leading historian and lecturer on Irish history. His topic
will be centred on the 1956-1962 IRA campaign, otherwise
known as 'Operation Harvest'.

There will be an accompanying display at the launch, of
unique photographs, newspaper cuttings and personal items.
The book contains all of these, most poignantly, a short
letter from Feargal to his sister, and excerpts from an
autograph book belonging to Pádraigín. One dated 21st
December, 1955 (her brother had joined the IRA the previous
year) reproduces the Latin exhortation to Roman soldiers,
'dulce et decorum est mori pro patria: 'it is a sweet and
decent thing to die for your country'.

So, who was O'Hanlon and what motivated Sean South to
travel so far North, and what went all so wrong and how,
like the Easter Rising, defeat became a glorious triumph.
For, despite Bishop O'Callaghan's condemnation, an
estimated attendance of 5,000 turned up for O'Hanlon's
funeral in Monaghan Cathedral and, all the way to his final
resting place in Limerick, thousands lined the streets of
Dundalk (1,500 workers left their jobs to be there),
Drogheda, Dublin, Nenagh and Roscrea (where 7,000 followed
the hearse) in tribute to Sean South, his funeral Mass in
Limerick being attended by an estimated 50,000.

Who were they? The book gives a profile of each. South was
a noted Gealgóir and, in fact, he formed a youth
organisation on the Padraig Pearse model whose members used
Irish in their studies and games.

Séamus tells the editors: 'Seán left home on 9th December,
1956, happy, I'm sure, in the thought that he was going to
strike a blow for Irish freedom'. He died just five weeks
short of his 30th birthday.

Feargal O'Hanlon died just four weeks short of his 22nd
birthday. Of stocky build, it is no surprise to see him
feature in the Monaghan harps GAA team that won the
Monaghan Intermediate 'double' in 1954, and in a handball
photograph aged 20.

Where did the raid go wrong, and where did it go right for
the occupants of Brookeborough Barracks shortly after 7
o'clock on New Year's Day?

Several things went wrong for the 14 IRA party, and
ironically, the one thing that went right for the RUC men,
the book explains, is that the Sergeant in charge,
returning from a shop across the street, saw the lorry
arriving and, sensing what was up, bolted into the
barracks. Daithí O'Connell, who was second in command of
the Assault Section, tried to bring him down with shots
from his Thompson sub-machine gun, but missed.

The plan was, the book explains, that the lorry would park
across the road from the barracks, and the cover group
would give fire from the vehicle at the barracks, allowing
the assault group to place a landmine at its front door. If
the RUC personnel inside refused to surrender, a second
mine would be laid and the building blown up. (The book
does not say that the Volunteers intended doing with their

In any event, the Sergeant, having dodged the bullets,
raced to an upstairs room where he grabbed a Bren gun that
had been used in training the previous day.

Two mines failed to ignite and the Bren's response from
above was lethal, striking South and then O'Hanlon as the
truck pulled away and, in between, injuring four of their

The book then takes us - there is a map within the book
charting the course of the Volunteers' final fateful
journey, partly in their hijacked lorry, from the Knocks to
Brookeborough and on to Keenan's Barn (a monument marks the
spot where O'Hanlon and South died), and then on foot
across Jenkin Hill towards Monaghan.

The book then moves on to coverage of the inquest on
O'Hanlon and South, conducted by the late Rainey Hanna, an
Enniskillen solicitor.

The surgeon who had operated on O'Hanlon confirmed that he
had died as a result of shock and bleeding from his leg
wounds and, in reply to Mr Hanna, he suggested his life
could have been saved if he had been attended to earlier,
but not when the Police arrived at Altwark.

Copies of the book, 'The Pearse Column & the Brookeborough
Raid' can be purchased at Friday night's launch in the Donn
Carragh Hotel, Lisnaskea. The programme starts at 8 o'clock


Ray Flynn To Lead New York Parade

By Ray O'Hanlon

Former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn is the grand marshal for
the 2007 New York St. Patrick's Day Parade. The
announcement was made Tuesday by the parade's organizing
committee at a press conference at the Metropolitan Club in

In the presence of the 2006 grand marshal Tim Rooney, and
1992 grand marshal Connie Doolan, Flynn was introduced by
parade committee chairman John Dunleavy and vice chairman,
Dr. John Lahey.

Flynn said he was very honored to be chosen to lead the
parade, in his case the 246th consecutive.

"Frankly I was a bit surprised because there are so many
distinguished people in this great city who deserve this
more than I do," said Flynn, who served as U.S. ambassador
to the Vatican between 1993 and 1997.

"I've always considered the New York parade a national
event, indeed an international event," he added.

Flynn said that in his role as grand marshal he would
consider himself the representative of all who supported
the parade and of Irish immigrant men and women, past and

When it comes to leading the parade up Fifth Avenue on
March 17, Flynn said he would be cognizant of what New York
City had done for the United States and what the Irish had
done for the country over the generations.

"Isn't it wonderful to know that the son of Irish
immigrants can stand before you in this city and wear the
sash of grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day Parade,"
Flynn said.

He said that in his basketball playing days - Flynn was a
star at Providence College in the early 1960s - he would
often be in New York around St. Patrick's Day for games at
Madison Square Garden.

"I remember Bobby Kennedy walking in the parade," he said.

Flynn said that his wife Catherine and his entire family
would be in New York for the parade.

In his remarks Flynn paid particular tribute to the late
Frank Durkan, Paul O'Dwyer and New York Police Officer
Steven McDonald who was paralyzed by an assailant's bullet
while on duty.

McDonald, in turn, paid tribute to Flynn with whom he has
worked in the effort to bring about a settlement in
Northern Ireland.

"In my family's view, one of the greatest honors a person
can receive in America is to be selected grand marshal of
the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City," McDonald,
who takes part in the parade each year said.

"As an American of Irish heritage, I am proud to say that
Ray Flynn, my friend, will be the 2007 grand marshal. I
can't think of an Irish-American more deserving of the
honor." McDonald said.

Irish consul general in New York, Tim O'Connor, also lauded
the choice of Flynn.

Flynn, said O'Connor, was "an extremely fitting choice" to
lead the march.

Ray Flynn has for years been one of the most familiar
political figures in Irish America.

As Democratic mayor of Boston, Flynn took the side of
undocumented Irish in the city during the reform campaign
of the late 1980s and early '90s.

He was a central figure in the effort to persuade then
governor Bill Clinton to commit to a meaningful policy on
Northern Ireland if elected president.

In 1992, Flynn chaired the panel that quizzed Clinton and
former California governor Jerry Brown on issues of Irish
concerns at a presidential forum in New York.

In more recent years, Flynn's political stance has covered
both main parties although he remains a registered
Democrat. In 1999 he took over the leadership of the non-
partisan Catholic Alliance, a national Catholic political
organization and in 2000 he backed George Bush for the
presidency over Al Gore.

As president of the alliance, Flynn advocated greater
political participation on the part of blue-collar
Catholics across the country.

Flynn spends much of his time these days on the public
speaking tour and is frequently called upon by major media
outlets as an expert commentator on Catholic affairs and
the Vatican.

This story appeared in the issue of December 6 - 12, 2006


Jim Coogan - RIP

All of us whose lives are intertwined with Irish
Traditional Music are mourning the death of Jim Coogan,
father of Mary Coogan, of Cherish the Ladies, and himself a
stalwart session player and scholar and lover of Trad
music. Jim Coogan was a rare combination of gentleman,
fount of musical knowledge, marvelous box player, and nice
guy. The world of trad music, indeed, the entire world, is
the less for his loss. We will always miss him. Our deepest
sympathy and friendship go to Mary and Jimmy. Ar dheis De
go raibh a anam.

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