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December 18, 2006

Orange Order NOT Willing To Talk

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 12/18/06 Orange Order NOT Willing To Hold Talks
BB 12/18/06 Orange Order 'Prepared To Talk'
EX 12/17/06 McDowell: IRA Gunmen Not Responsible For Gang Warfare
IN 12/18/06 Cleveland City Resolution Supports A United Ireland
BT 12/18/06 Donaldson Offered 'Get Out Of Jail Card'
BT 12/18/06 Special Branch Tried To Save Donaldson From Jail
BT 12/18/06 Committee Holds Talks On Transfer Of Policing Powers
BB 12/18/06 MI5 Transfer Dangerous Says SDLP
IN 12/18/06 McIlveen Murder Linked To Lack Of Faith In PSNI
BB 12/18/06 Paisley Daughter Wins DUP Apology
BB 12/18/06 Trimble Set To Quit Assembly Seat
EX 12/18/06 No Money-Laundering Charges Two Years After Bank Raid
IN 12/18/06 Opin: Anti-Catholic Collusion Must Not Happen Again
IN 12/18/06 Opin: Acceptance & Support For Devolution Is Crucial
IN 12/18/06 Opin: Nocturnal Wanderings A Timely Political Message
IN 12/18/06 Opin: Time For US To End Executions
TR 12/17/06 Record For Carol Singing Set In Kilkenny
WL 12/17/06 The Right-Wing IRA Of The 50s
TE 12/18/06 The Men Who Make Les Miracles
IN 12/18/06 Thousands Mourn The Death Of GAA Official
RT 12/18/06 Arts Council Announces Circus Grants
BT 12/18/06 PVL: New Strain Of MRSA Targets The Young

(Poster's Note: Orange Order:
First they say they will; and they won't.
Then they say they do; and then they don't.
Their undecided now; So what are you going to do?


Orange Order NOT Willing to Hold Talks

Watchdog under fire

[Published: Monday 18, December 2006 - 12:13]
By By Noel McAdam

Portadown Orange Order leaders today hit out at the Parades
Commission after warning no mediation process is in sight
which could resolve the Drumcree march stalemate.

The criticism came after reports that Portadown lodges have
agreed to face-to-face talks with the Garvaghy Road
Residents' Coalition.

But spokesman David Jones said there had been no change in
Portadown's lodges' position.

"We have said we are willing to engage in a mediation
process with an independent chairman," Mr Jones, an
independent councillor, said. " Certainly at some point
that could involve both sides being in the same room at the
same time talking through a chairman, but there is no
change in that position."

Instead, he said, the commission which had mooted the
possibility of some mediation effort was guilty of
"dragging its feet".

Mr Jones said new commission chairman Roger Poole had taken
up position a year ago emphasising that successful
mediation could put the commission out of business.

"Since then we have heard nothing about the appointment of
an independent chairman and we have not been invited to
take part in any mediation process," he said.

A commission spokesman was not available for comment.

c Belfast Telegraph


Orange Order 'Prepared To Talk'

The Orange Order in Portadown has confirmed it is prepared
to enter face-to-face talks with nationalist residents of
Garvaghy Road.

The move marks a significant change in policy for the lodge
which previously refused to talk to residents.

Residents objected to Portadown Orange men using Garvaghy
Road on their return journey from Drumcree church each

A spokesman for the order said it was prepared to "enter a
mediation process with an independent chairman".

In a statement, the spokesman said: "Portadown District has
always been willing to find a solution to the Garvaghy Road

"We have intimated by letter to the Parades Commission that
we are willing to enter a mediation process with an
independent chairman.


"No meetings have taken place, but we are awaiting

A spokesman for Garvaghy Road residents said they had
received an indication from the Parades Commission of the
possibility of dialogue and were awaiting confirmation.

The Portadown Orange Lodge has not marched along Garvaghy
Road since 1998 following determinations by the Parades

Each July, the Portadown Orange Lodge attends a service at
Drumcree church to commemorate the anniversary of the
Battle of the Somme.

The parade has been marked by serious violence in the past,
but it has passed off peacefully in the last three years.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions
on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

The Orange Institution is the largest loyal order in
Northern Ireland.

Its origins date from the 17th century battle for supremacy
between Protestantism and Catholicism. Prince William of
Orange, originally of the Netherlands, led the fight
against Catholic King James.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/18 11:10:54 GMT


McDowell Insists IRA Gunmen Not Responsible For Gang Warfare

By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent

TANAISTE and Justice Minister Michael McDowell insisted
"Provos" were not involved in Dublin's gangland warfare
ahead of today's crisis summit with the Taoiseach and garda
chiefs on the murder feud.

The minister rejected claims IRA gunmen were implicated in
the spate of execution-style killings as he again accused
judges of being soft on suspected offenders seeking bail.

The charge provoked Labour leader Pat Rabbitte to warn the
minister was risking a "constitutional crisis" with his
attacks on the judiciary.

"There are a few people who did associate on the fringe of
the Provos who've been involved in recent gangland
activity, that's true," Mr McDowell told Today FM.

"But that is not the same as saying the Provos are getting
back into crime. If I thought for a moment that was the
case, I would hot foot it down to the Taoiseach and we
would go public and bring it to the attention of the

The top level "gangland" summit was called to concentrate
on three key issues - deployment of resources, speeding up
the trial process and tightening bail procedures - before
tomorrow's full Cabinet meeting.

The move follows fears of a gang feud "bloodbath" in the
wake of the execution-style slaying of crime boss Martin
"Marlo" Hyland last Tuesday.

In one of Ireland's bloodiest weeks for years, six people
were killed in six days, including apprentice plumber
Anthony Campbell who happened to be working in the house
where Hyland was hiding out when the gunman struck.

Mr McDowell continued his fierce attacks on the judiciary
by again hitting out at judges for over-ruling garda
objections to bail applications, despite claims some
associates of Hyland were bailed with the consent of

Mr Rabbitte criticised Mr McDowell's onslaught against the

"Three times within the past week, the minister launched
intemperate attacks on the judiciary in an effort to divert
attention away from his own dismal record. He announced
special high-level meetings to take special but unspecified
measures to deal with the crisis - a crisis he says arises
from the judges' failure to apply the law as enacted by the
people in the bail referendum.

"It seems now that the minister embarked on a near
constitutional crisis, by targeting the judges for
sustained attack and accusing them of reneging on their
duty to apply the Constitution and the law, while totally
ignoring the true facts of the situation.

"It is difficult to believe that the minister could have
been unaware about the facts surrounding these bail
applications. If he knew there were 24 cases involving the
Hyland gang and that bail was granted in 23 of them, he
must have known in how many cases the garda¡ were opposed
to bail. If the guards did not oppose bail in court, there
is no reason at all why bail should not have been granted
by the courts," he said.


Cleveland City Council Resolution Supports A United Ireland

With a resolution passed on December 6, the Cleveland City
Council has added its voice to the growing body of
international organizations concerned about the lack of
progress in the Irish Peace Process.

Resolution 2016-06 urges "the English and Irish governments
to take immediate steps necessary to bring to fullness the
promises of the All Ireland institutions called for in the
Good Friday Agreement."

Recently Sinn Fein leader Thomas O'Reilly, a member of the
Fermanagh District Council and member of the Northern
Ireland Legislative Assembly, met with Mayor Frank Jackson
and City Council President Martin Sweeney to discuss the
benefits of a United Ireland. The meetings were arranged
with the assistance of local human rights activists Roger
S. Weist, Kathleen Whitford and John Myers.

Sponsored by Sweeney and council members Brian J.Cummins,
Kevin J. Kelley and Robert J. White, the resolution
requests that the Irish government "study the implications
of a United Ireland and outline steps fundamental to
restore the Irish Nation" and move without delay "to
further the peaceful healing of the Irish nation by
granting duly elected northern MP's Speaking Rights in the
Irish Parliament."

It recognizes that "a unified, independent Irish Police
Service and Justice System is most likely to be effective,
fair and impartial" and that "the democratic reunification
of Ireland is the ultimate roadmap to peace and prosperity
for the Irish nation and people."

In closing it states, "This City and the United States of
America have greatly benefitted from the contributions of
the sons and daughters of Ireland and Cleveland City
Council wishes to promote the peace and prosperity for All

Seeking to insure the Governments stand behind their
commitment to the Irish Peace Process, the Clerk of Council
transmitted certified copies of the resolution to the
Ambassador for the Republic of Ireland and the Ambassador
for the United Kingdom at Washington, D.C.

Contact: Pat Kempton
Irish Northern Aid


Donaldson Offered 'Get Out Of Jail Card'

[Published: Monday 18, December 2006 - 12:21]
By By Brian Rowan

A year on from Denis Donaldson's dramatic public confession
that he was a British agent, details are emerging of one of
his last meetings with his Special Branch handlers.

It came just 48 hours before the Belfast republican was
arrested in connection with the so-called Stormontgate
scandal - the alleged IRA intelligence gathering operation
at the heart of government here.

Special Branch knew Donaldson was hiding stolen documents
in his house -papers that had been taken from the Northern
Ireland Office and other government buildings.

A meeting with his handlers on October 2, 2002, was to
allow him "to come clean". He was in the words of a senior
intelligence source being given a "get out of jail card".

Donaldson - a senior Sinn Fein party worker - was murdered
in April this year, just months after that public
confession that he had been an agent for Special Branch and
British Security Services since the 1980s.

The Belfast republican made that statement 12 months ago on
December 16 - a week after the Stormontgate case collapsed.

Now, a senior intelligence source has revealed the thinking
behind the Donaldson-Special Branch meeting in October

"Go out, meet him. Give him a chance, and, if he says
nothing, we are going tomorrow (to make arrests)," the
source told this newspaper.

It is known Special Branch had been tracking the
Stormontgate documents for months as part of a bugging and
surveillance operation known as Torsion.

This is how they knew the papers had only just been moved
to Donaldson's home at the time of the October 2002
meeting. They also knew who took them there.

Indeed, there had been a plan to intercept the documents
while they were being moved and to make arrests, but, for
some reason, this strategy had to be abandoned.

Donaldson did not speak to Special Branch when the
documents arrived at his home. They contacted him.

"He was only met before the raids to give him a chance to
come clean," an intelligence source told this newspaper.

"You want him to come and say. 'I've got a load of f***ing
papers here, and I don't know what to do with them'. He
didn't open his cheeper," the source continued.

Donaldson was later arrested and charged with others but
the Stormontgate case collapsed.

The Belfast republican was a Special Branch agent -
operating under the code name "O'Neill" - but he was not
the informer who triggered the Stormontgate investigation.

The police had another agent.


Analysis: Special Branch Tried To Save Him From Jail,
To Hide Him From Harm

By Brian Rowan

A year on from the public confession, the unanswered
question is still, why?

What forced Denis Donaldson out into the open? What made
him tell a secret of 20 years and more?

Why did he reveal himself as an agent for the Special
Branch and the British Security Services?

What is the story behind that shock statement on December
16 last year - a statement that led to his murder just a
few months later?

Denis Donaldson has taken all of those answers to his

But this newspaper can reveal a last minute attempt by the
Special Branch to provide their agent with a "get out of
jail card".

Donaldson made reference to the meeting in that public
confession a year ago, but gave no details.

His handlers met him on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 - 48
hours before Donaldson and others were arrested in
connection with the Stormontgate scandal.

The Special Branch wanted the Belfast republican to tell
them something they already knew - that inside his house he
was hiding documents stolen from the Northern Ireland
Office and other Government buildings as part of an alleged
IRA intelligence gathering operation.

"You want him to come and say, 'I've got a load of
papers here, and I don't know what to do with them'."

This is an intelligence source speaking to this newspaper -
a source with detailed knowledge of Donaldson's agent role
and the so-called Stormontgate affair.

It is this source who has described the purpose of the
meeting between Donaldson and his handlers 48 hours before
his arrest and the scandal that brought down the last
power-sharing Executive.

"Go out, meet him. Give him a chance, and if he says
nothing, we are going tomorrow (to make arrests)," the
source told this newspaper.

For about six months before that meeting in October 2002,
the Special Branch and MI5 knew the extent of the alleged
IRA intelligence gathering operation.

Their information came from another agent, who told them
where the documents were being hidden before being moved to
Donaldson's house.

They were in the home of a sportsman in west Belfast - a
house that became the target of the bugging and
surveillance operation known as Torsion.

And this is how the Special Branch knew the papers had been
moved to the home of Donaldson.

They also knew who took them there - someone who Donaldson
could not betray.

There had been a plan to intercept the documents while they
were being moved and to make arrests.

"They (the documents) had just moved to him." This is the
intelligence source describing the period that led to that
meeting with Donaldson in October 2002.

"We actually struck out that night they were being moved,
when (name withheld) was moving them," the source

"We went for them that night and missed them. We would have
got (name withheld) moving them.

"We didn't know they were going to (Donaldson's house)."

But, once they knew where they were, the Special Branch
needed Donaldson to speak, and he didn't.

"He was only met before the raids to give him a chance to
come clean," the intelligence source explained, but there
wasn't a "cheep" out of Donaldson.

There were reasons why the Special Branch weren't going to
tell their agent what they knew.

What if they told Donaldson and the bag and the documents
were then moved?

What if republicans found the "device" - the locator bug
placed with the papers during Operation Torsion?

To tell Donaldson may have exposed the other agent who was
in at the start of the long bugging and surveillance

Donaldson's silence was the beginning of his end.

On the same day the Special Branch met the Belfast
republican, the then Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid
was told that arrests were now imminent.

He had to be informed.

The alleged IRA intelligence gathering operation was inside
the NIO and there would be wider implications for the
political process in Northern Ireland.

Donaldson hadn't taken his chance to talk.

He was between a rock and a hard place because he, like the
Special Branch, knew who brought the documents to his

It was someone he couldn't - wouldn't - betray.

"He lost his life rather than do that," the intelligence
source told this newspaper.

Donaldson operated under the codename "O'Neill" - something
first revealed by the Sunday World newspaper.

A year ago, at the time of his public confession, it was
suggested that he was about to be exposed by the media, but
there has been no evidence to support that claim.

The intelligence source who has spoken to the Belfast
Telegraph has offered another theory, but it needs further
research and examination.

Denis Donaldson was murdered within months of his
confession, and there are secrets that will never be told.

But what is emerging is the story of how the Special Branch
tried to save him from jail, and there is a suggestion that
they were prepared to relocate him - to hide him from harm
- as they've done with other agents.

Donaldson didn't ask, and he ended up dead - shot while on
his own in a remote cottage in County Donegal.

c Belfast Telegraph


Committee Holds Key Talks On Transfer Of Policing Powers

[Published: Monday 18, December 2006 - 11:08]

A key Stormont committee is due to hold talks over the next
two days that could determine whether the St Andrew's
timetable for restoring devolution will be met.

The committee has been set up to discuss the technicalities
surrounding the transfer of policing and justice powers to

Sinn Fein says it will not be making any decision on
endorsing the PSNI until a timetable for this transfer has
been laid out.

It also wants details of how the ministry will work and a
commitment that the British spy agency MI5 will not be
involved in day-to-day policing matters.

c Belfast Telegraph


MI5 Transfer Dangerous Says SDLP

The transfer of national security from the police to MI5 in
Northern Ireland is dangerous, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has

He has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking him to
rethink plans for MI5's role and the repercussions for the
police ombudsman's role.

MI5 is spending more than œ20m on new headquarters at
Palace Barracks in Holywood, holding up to 400 people.

Mr Durkan called the plans a "dangerous diversion of
resources from al-Qaeda".

"Because the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
handles national security matters, the Police Ombudsman can
investigate complaints about these matters.

"But when MI5 assumes primacy she will not be able to do
so," he said.

He said this was a contradiction, as the ombudsman, Nuala
O'Loan, can already investigate complaints against the
Serious Organised Crime Agency.

She would also shortly be empowered to do the same for
Revenue and Customs and Immigration Service staff, he
pointed out.

In June, NI Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson said the
proposed transfer had "profound potential implications for
the police service" and was a cause for concern.

In his 16th report, he said the transfer must not stop
police from investigating organised crime.

The government's decision means that from next summer, MI5
will gather intelligence on terrorist groups and their
activities, while the police will gather criminal

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/12/18 06:46:36 GMT



McIlveen Murder Linked To Lack Of Faith In PSNI

By Staff Reporter

A POLICE chief in Ballymena believes a dip in the public's
confidence in the PSNI in the area may be connected to fear
in the community following the sectarian murder of Catholic
schoolboy Michael McIlveen in May.

Superintendent Terry Shevlin was commenting at a meeting of
Ballymena District Policing Partnership, after Ballymena
DUP deputy mayor Maurice Mills noted a six per cent drop in
confidence in the police in Ballymena.

Mr Shevlin said confidence levels could be affected by
different dynamics and what was happening in a community at
any given time could have an impact.

"The community in Ballymena experienced a dark time due to
the sectarian murder of 15-year-old Michael McIlveen," he

He added: "This raised fears of sectarian crime and genuine
questions as to what the police could do to prevent a
reoccurrence. While

a thorough investigation saw a number of persons charged
with serious crime it is not unreasonable to assume that
confidence issues were affected."

He said public confidence in policing could be increased by
more participation from the community.


Paisley Daughter Wins DUP Apology

Ian Paisley's daughter Rhonda has won an apology from the
DUP after she launched a sex discrimination case against
the party.

Rhonda Paisley filed her suit after she failed to secure a
job as policy officer in 2004.

In an out of court settlment, an agreed statement was
issued by the DUP and Ms Paisley.

The party accepted its recruitment procedures were
deficient and apologised for any distress caused.

It also said it regretted "the way the issues had been

The DUP said that following a review, it has since put in
place best practice procedures for future appointments.

A spokesman for the Office of the Industrial Tribunals and
the Fair Employment Tribunal said they have not been
informed that the case against the party had been settled.

Rhonda Paisley is a former DUP councillor and ex-Lady
Mayoress of Belfast.

In recent years she has shunned the political limelight to
concentrate on her career as an artist.

She previously took a fair employment case against the Arts
Council for Northern Ireland, alleging religious
discrimination, which she won.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/18 12:43:45 GMT


Trimble Set To Quit Assembly Seat

Former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Lord Trimble
will not be standing in the forthcoming elections to the
Northern Ireland Assembly.

The move, confirmed by the party, was expected following
his elevation to the House of Lords earlier this year.

Mr Trimble was Northern Ireland's only first minister. He
was leader of the Ulster Unionist Party for 10 years from

The next assembly elections are due to take place on 7

Mr Trimble won a Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the 1998
Good Friday Agreement.

He stepped down as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party,
after losing his Westminster seat in Upper Bann in the 2005
general election.

In total, the Ulster Unionist Party lost four of its seats
in the poll.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/18 11:53:38 GMT


No Money-Laundering Charges Two Years After Bank Raid

By Caroline O'Doherty

NO decisions on charges against suspects investigated for
money-laundering as part of the probe into the Northern
Bank raid are expected for another year.

As the second anniversary of the œ26.5 million (?39m)
Belfast robbery approaches this Wednesday, it has emerged
the garda file on the investigation only went to the
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in recent weeks.

One of the biggest files compiled by garda¡, it runs to
over 10 volumes and many thousands of pages of witness
statements, surveillance reports and forensic data.

It focuses on five individuals whom detectives believe were
involved in attempts to launder the stolen money through
businesses in the south and various investment channels.

Some media reports earlier this year incorrectly stated
that the file was already with the DPP, whose task it is to
decide which suspects, if any, should be charged and with
what offences.

Superintendent Kevin Donohue of the Garda Press Office,
however, said work on the file had only recently been
completed by garda¡ and that there was still information
being sought from their counterparts in the North.

"I can confirm that a substantial file has been submitted
to the DPP a number of weeks ago and that within that file
the garda¡ have made recommendations in respect of a number
of people, and that a number of inquiries remain
outstanding with the PSNI (Police Service of Northern
Ireland) and are being dealt with within the mutual
assistance agreements," Supt Donohue said.

Any additional information received from the PSNI will be
added to the files already with the DPP who is not expected
to be in a position to conclude his deliberations until
well into the latter half of next year.

An IRA gang of up to 30 members is believed to have been
responsible for the raid on December 20, 2004, but despite
garda and PSNI investigations, just three people have been
charged in the North in connection with the robbery and
they have not yet been sent forward for trial.

In the Republic, one man is awaiting trial but only on a
charge of membership of the IRA. No one has been charged
with what garda¡ believe was a highly sophisticated attempt
to launder the stolen money.

Less than œ3m (?4m) of the money is believed to have been


Opin: Anti-Catholic Collusion Must Not Happen Again

By Observer, Newcastle

There was widespread collusion between subversive loyalist
organisations and some of the mainly Protestant locally
recruited security forces in the early 1920s and this was
to reemerge in force in the late 1960s.

After the intervention of the British in 1969, the revamped
loyalist paramilitary group, the UVF, grew substantially,
and absorbed members of the B-Special police force.

Many B-Specials had been detected as belonging to the
militant Ulster Protestant Volunteers - a link revealed by
the then RUC inspector-general Anthony Peacocke.

(The B-Specials were disbanded in 1970 because of attitudes
"hostile to Catholics").

A recent independent report drew attention to collusion
between loyalist terrorists and sections of the RUC and UDR

This pattern was also clear on a large scale throughout the
1980s and 1990s as well.

A myriad of loyalist paramilitary groups had worked their
way into the security nexus. And it was this covert arm
which gave them such clout (the secrets of the terrorist
network they created are not yet known).

Many Catholics died at RUC/UDR/army-linked UVF/UDA hands
for what they symbolised rather than for any political

They were killed because they were
Catholic - neither age, gender nor innocence saved them.

The British government, including Special Branch and MI5,
knew of these plots and could have prevented them but chose
to remain silent.

Catholics have reason to be outraged by the secrecy
preventing investigation of crimes, such as collusion and
mass murder.

In a democracy it would unthinkable for government or
police to withhold information. In Northern Ireland
documents, files and exhibits have been concealed or
destroyed. The outcome of countless murder investigations
have been affected.

Catholics want one thing above all, justice from the
British colonial administration. That, it happens, is
exactly what the British say (mendaciously) that they stand

But there must be an independent, international inquiry
into the whole festering issue of collusion between
loyalist terrorists and the British security forces in the

More must also be done to reform political and judicial
structures which hitherto protected renegade agents of the
state and the higher echelons of the PSNI must be more
representative of the community they claim to serve.


Opin: Acceptance And Support For Devolution Is Crucial

By Tom Kelly

Towards the end of his life De Valera was asked if there
was anything he regretted - he replied: `Not accepting the
Treaty'. Mr De Valera probably came to that realisation
quite some time before, perhaps even following the death of
Michael Collins of whom he is reported to have said
`History is likely to be more favourable to Mick than to
me'. De Valera was always more of a politician than a
soldier and he must have known that the only window open in
the negotiations with the British was the deal signed by
the pro- Treaty members in the then Sinn Fein.

However apart from relapsed rhetoric once down the
democratic path De Valera never looked back. He also came
to understand that the government of Mr Liam Cosgrove
soundly laid the foundations for democracy, which were so
fragile after the Irish Civil War. De Valera told his son
Vivian that `Once we got in and saw their books (the
Cosgrove government), we realised what a splendid job they
did, splendid.' It is a measure of De Valera that he and
Cosgrove reconciled their differences before the latter
died. Once in government De Valera proved ruthless with the
remnant elements of the IRA, hanging their leaders and
imprisoning their agitators.

Ironically before and during the Second World War the more
reactionary elements of the physical force republicanism
looked to fascism and its leaders in Europe. Former comrade
Eoin O Duffy and his Blueshirts looked to Franco and
Mussolini for inspiration and leadership; while
unreconstructed IRA sympathisers like Russell looked
straight to the rotten head of Nazism as a partner in

O'Duffy made increasingly more inflammatory speeches about
the north and Russell and others in the IRA looked to
Hitler to help them open up another front against the
British. The real crime of both was their attempts to
undermine the national government of Ireland.

Looking at Ireland today it seems the cycle of history is
but one turn of the wheel. The media reports that the
leadership of the Provisional movement is under threat from
dissident republicans. The police have notified leading
Sinn Fein members that they have received information
confirming the threats against Gerry Kelly and other
members of the organisation. Without any sense of irony,
Sinn Fein members have taken to the airwaves with the
information provided by the PSNI.

Now of course, it is only right and sensible that Sinn Fein
members take the necessary precautions to protect
themselves and their families. Being threatened is a
serious matter and not something, which anyone should take
lightly. One supposes that Sinn Fein don't mind accepting
the validity of this information even if it does come from
the much-reviled PSNI. Unlike many of the victims of the
IRA - Sinn Fein members know how these republican
malcontents think and they also have the advantage of
police intelligence informing them of any imminent attacks
- something else civilian victims of terrorism did not

The day of reckoning is upon Sinn Fein and the litmus test
is their forthcoming support for policing. On the ground
Sinn Fein representatives have been engaging with the
police across a range of issues in areas from Newry to
Derry to west Belfast - the police know it as `do Sinn
Fein'. The only people outside of the loop are the
thousands of young people who have been used periodically
for spots of useful recreational violence when republicans
want to raise the political temperature.

Sinn Fein is right to be anxious about moving forward
because ard fheis or no ard fheis the legions of these
young people who are used by that party will be asked to
fight an election and go door to door based promoting two
things - power-sharing with the DUP and support for the
police. There is not a washing machine built which could
spin away that such acceptance is an end and not a
beginning for the Provisionals. Acceptance and support for
devolution is the beginning of the end for Provisional
jingoism and rhetoric.

For the Sinn Fein leadership the endorsement of the Police
Service of Northern Ireland is going to be tough but brave
decision when it is taken for it means acceptance of the
northern state.

This Christmas how many families in the north - both in the

Movement and the wider community are without a loved one
because Sinn Fein has at last woken up to the gift that was
on offer 30 years ago at Sunningdale?

Any regrets - Gerry?


Opin: Nocturnal Wanderings A Timely Political Message

By Tom Kelly

The other night I dreamt that the fictional Dickens
character Jacob Marley visited Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams
on Christmas Eve. In the nocturnal wanderings of my mind
the chains holding Marley were laden with boxes full of
false promises, missed opportunities and copies of the
weighty volume Lost Lives.

In my dream the miserly protagonists dreamed of two
futures; one of splendid isolation viewed through orange
tinted glasses and the other of a mystical island wrapped
in a green mist. To Paisley, Jacob Marley took the form of
Edward Carson and to Adams, he was Patrick Pearse. The
emptiness of the rhetoric that awoke both from their
slumber was deafening in its silence.

In the Dickens novel Scrooge meets two children with their
names `Ignorance' and `Want' written across their
foreheads. In my dream Paisley and Adams saw `Ignorance'
and `Want' everywhere they looked.

In the visitations Jacob Marley aka Carson /Pearse told his
sleepers that he was condemned for all eternity to wander
between two Irish Nirvanas but fitting into none. Both
Paisley and Adams were shocked to discover their iconic
forefathers were not basking in the glory of a political
heaven but Marley pointed Paisley to the fallen of the
Ulster Division in the graveyards of Ancre and Ypres and to
Adams he pointed to the graveyard of Glasnevin and the
burial ground in Kilmainham. Marley, in his two forms urged
both Paisley and Adams not to befall his fate.

Then just as in A Christmas Carol Marley foretold of three
visitations; only this time it was the ghost of Caitlin Ni
Houlihan past, present and future. Already Paisley was not

But Caitlin duly appeared and off went Paisley and Adams
into the darkness of the night and the gory memories of
yesteryear. Images of Burntollet; Bloody Sunday, Claudy, La
Mon, Kingsmills; Darkley, Hunger Strikes, Greysteel,
Shankill, Loughinisland and Omagh flashed before their eyes
like a kaleidoscope of agony ending in a haze of red.

Both men turned away only to see Marley trying to wash his

They looked at each other and said nothing but `Ignorance'
was standing between them.

Caitlin then led Adams and Paisley to the real world. First
they arrived at the scene of two terrified elderly sisters
from South Belfast robbed at knifepoint, now too frightened
to stay in their homes over the holidays.

Then it's a dash across the city to visit the `lace
curtain' poor in the form of a young Newtownabbey family
robbed of Christmas by the collapse of Farepak and whose
children will have to rely on charity for presents.

Finally they are taken to Stormont Castle where unabated
the unelected mandarins are planning increased rates, water
charges, school closures and cut backs in health, gleefully
delighted with the absence of accountability. Both men
turned away only to see Marley had become Peter Hain on
Carson's plinth. They looked at each other and again said
nothing but this time `Want' was standing between them
gazing at the empty Parliament Buildings.

Finally, Caitlin took them to `Irelands' of the future.
Adams was not impressed - there was no `Plan B'.

There were two men sitting outside of City Hall drinking
cider (some things never change) reminiscing about the past
and the monster city centre Anti Agreement rallies led by
Paisley and how Adams regaled thousands of Sinn Fein
activists by telling them the IRA had not gone away.

`Two chancers' said of the men to the other. `I wonder
where they are now?' said the other. `Neither Heaven or
Hell would be big enough for them' replied the first.
`That's true' said the second.

`But remember a guy from Hope, Arkansas once stood here
told us it could get better?' Taking a swig from the bottle
the other said `Sure they'd promise you anything at

Caitlin then took both Paisley and Adams back to their
respective political beds. Before leaving Adams looked at
Paisley and said `A chara is that it then?' Paisley said

Not for the first time Caitlin wept. `Ignorance' and `Want'
were together at last. As Paisley looked in the mirror he
saw Carson and smiled. Adams saw Pearce and did likewise.
We know who we are they whispered to themselves.

But Marley reminded both of them to wash their hands before
they went to sleep and he left two sets of chains by their

Waking from my sleep I asked my wife: `Was that a dream or
a nightmare?'


Opin: Time For US To End Executions

The decision by the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, to halt
executions in his state pending a review of the existing
lethal injection system should at long last push forward a
US national debate on the use of capital punishment.

Governor Bush and his brother, President George W Bush,
have previously stood as strong supporters of the death

However, the case of convicted murderer Angel Diaz, who
took an estimated 34 minutes to die after receiving a
lethal injection, has forced the authorities in Florida to
place their policy under investigation.

Other US states, which continue to favour the use of
electrocution, the gas chamber and even firing squads, must
be compelled to follow suit.

At some stage, the US judicial system needs to finally
accept that certainty of detection will always be a greater
deterrent than severity of punishment.


Record For Carol Singing Set In Kilkenny

17 December 2006 23:02

A new European record for carol singing has been set in Co

More than 3,600 people turned up at Nowlan Park this
afternoon and sang non-stop for 32 minutes, thus setting a
new Irish and European record for the biggest Christmas
carol service ever held.

The event has helped raise thousands of euros for local

Organisers say they will attempt to break the World Record
next year.


The Right-Wing IRA Of The 50s

Thomas Carolan continues his series about the history of
Irish Republicanism

The Irish Free State changed its name to "The Republic of
Ireland" in April 1949, 27 years after it was founded at
the end of a two and a half year war of independence
against the occupying forces of the British Crown.
Simultaneously the 26 County state withdrew from the

The Free State, the "maximum concession" which Britain had
been prepared to make to insurgent nationalist Ireland, had
given Dominion status within the British Commonwealth to 26
Irish counties. The King of England would remain King of

This "compromise" had been imposed on Republican Ireland by
British threats of "immediate and terrible" resumption of
war, and only after a bitter year-long civil war, which the
Free State party won with the backing of Britain and of all
the forces of social conservatism in Ireland.

That Free State party, now called Fine Gael, was the
strongest party in the coalition government which changed
the name of the "Irish Free State" to "The Republic of
Ireland" in 1949.

In fact the major changes as between the constitution of
the Irish Free State of 1922 and that of the Republic of
Ireland had already been carried through a dozen years
before 1949, by the party that lost the civil war, De
Valera's Fianna Fail. 1949 gave a measure of satisfaction
to most 26 Counties people; yet it was no more than a
change of name, a mere "dictionary Republic".

Withdrawing from the Commonwealth put additional barriers
between the 26 and Six-County Irish states.

It was accompanied by a large international propaganda
campaign, in which the 26 Counties government (a key
component of which was Clann na Poblachta, the party of the
"physical force" Republicans of the late 1920s and 1930s)
and De Valera in opposition, combined to indict Britain for
partitioning Ireland.

That propaganda campaign would have only one important
consequence: it would breathe new life into the all-but-
defunct underground Republican movement.

The campaign placed ending partition at the heart of
nationalist Irish endeavour, one of the two "great national
goals" (the other was the revival of Gaelic as the main
language of the people: in fact Dublin let economic erosion
and emigration radically reduce the population of the
Gaelic-speaking pockets which existed at the time of

It sanctified the delusion - the ideological lie - that the
fundamental reason for partition was the British commitment
to maintain it so long as a Northern Ireland majority
wanted it, and not the fact that the people in north-east
Ulster wanted it.

It thereby fostered the delusion that Northern Ireland
could be sensibly defined as "British-occupied Ireland" and
buttressed the physical-force-on-principle Republicans'
idea that war against "the Crown forces" there could
"liberate" "British-occupied Ireland".

If "anti-partition" propaganda failed to move either the
Unionist majority in the Six Counties or the British state,
it moved young, patriotic Irish Catholic men and women; and
its failure moved them to want to try the methods of the
rump IRA, those sanctified alike by nationalist romance and
by success at the beginning of the 1920s (in liberating the
26 Counties - where, in contrast to the Six Counties, or
strictly speaking four of the six counties, the big
majority wanted to be so liberated).

This, for example, is the simple-minded call of the Sinn
Fein/IRA Republicans in a newspaper advertisement for a
meeting in Clare in 1953, to commemorate "The Manchester
Martyrs", three Fenians, Allen, Larkin and O'Brien,
publicly hanged in Manchester in 1868.

Big headline: "86 years ago England's revenge"

Smaller headline: "Force Against Force".

And the message: "The same old story, the same old cause,
the same old methods. Ireland her own from shore to shore.
The west's awake! The west's awake!" (using the title of a
well-known nationalist song by Thomas Davis).

From the mid-1940s, as the gates of the internment camps
and jails in which so many of them had spent the long, slow
years of the World War opened to turn them loose, the
shattered forces of physical-force Republicanism began to
knit together in new organisations - politically, in Sinn
Fein, and militarily, in a revived illegal "Irish
Republican Army". In 1948 they started a monthly paper, The
United Irishman.

The heroic perseverance of those men and women, their
indomitable spirit, can only evoke respect and admiration
in socialists. If we are anything like as good in our own
cause, then we will be worth something to the working class
and to socialism.

Leon Trotsky greatly respected the revolutionary Republican
tradition. In June 1936, replied (in his own English) to a
letter from Nora Connolly, James Connolly's daughter:
"Since my early years I have got, though Marx and Engels,
the greatest sympathy and esteem for the heroic struggle of
the Irish for their independence. The tragical fate of your
courageous father met me in Paris during the war. I bear
him faithfully in my remembrance..."

"The revolutionary tradition of the national struggle is a
precious good. Would it be possible to imbue the Irish
proletariat with it for its socialist-class struggle, the
working class of your country could, in spite of the
numerical weakness of your population, play an important
historical role and give a mighty impulse to the British
working class now paralysed by the senile bureaucracy."

The tragedy of revolutionary Republicanism in much of the
20th century - most pointedly of those who have thought
they were socialists as well as Republicans - lies in the
contradiction between the heroism and selflessness of its
militants and their inadequate, narrow, threadbare, and not
infrequently reactionary, ideas and goals. Their ideas of
Northern Ireland bore little relationship to the realities.
If that was "British-occupied Ireland", then the main
"British occupiers" were the majority of the population -
Irish people with a distinct origin, tradition and

By the 1950s the physical-force-on-principle Republicans
were as lost politically as the European explorers who
found America and thought it was India and the people
living there, "Indians".

The root of their ideological lying to themselves lay in
Catholic-nationalist Ireland's inability emotionally and
intellectually to accept the fact that their nationalism
could not encompass the people of the whole island, and in
their refusal to see the distinction between the
geographical fact of a single island and the political
postulate of a single Irish people.

By the 1940s that postulate was, in the light of long
experience, simply preposterous.

In the Six Counties the need for this ideologising lay in
the oppressed status of the Catholic minority there as
second-class citizens, and in the fact that the Catholics
in the Protestant heartlands of north-east Ulster would
always be in a minority in anything other than a single
united Irish state. Their situation made it difficult for
them to formulate the issues clearly.

The physical-force Republican movement began to piece
itself together in the second half of the 1940s and picked
up momentum in the early 1950s. Politically this was the
most inadequate, narrow, and downright reactionary
"Republican" formation in Irish history. The early Provos,
at the end of the 60s and early 70s, were their progeny and
in key particulars the same people.

The Dublin trade union official Matt Merrigan, writing in
the New York Labor Action and in the London Socialist
Review(the distant ancestor of Socialist Worker) described
those who launched a new military campaign in Northern
Ireland (in 1956) as possessing the traits of fascism. He
was not mistaken.

Essentially, uniting the island was now the only concern of
physical-force Republicanism. But their Catholic Irish
nationalism could never - whatever attitude the British
state took - be a basis for persuading a majority of the
Unionists, whose felt national identity was British, to
unify Ireland. Decidedly the opposite.

The only conceivable constitutional basis for a bourgeois -
or indeed a working-class socialist - united Ireland would
have to be some sort of federal system that would
accommodate the British-Irish minority's autonomy within a
united Ireland - that is, a democratic republican
programme. Accommodating the Irish Protestant-Unionist
minority would mostly likely also involve the creation of
some looser confederal relationship between Britain and
Ireland - the opposite to withdrawal from the Commonwealth
(which, for that reason, De Valera was privately against).
History had shown that the two objectives of the
Republicans, Irish unity and Irish independence, were
mutually exclusive.

The idea of "British-occupied Ireland" implied an attempt
to conquer the Northern Ireland Protestants, who in fact
were the real "British occupation forces". Both De Valera
and the parties that formed the 1948-51 coalition
government in Dublin ruled out any such conclusion.

They knew it was not possible. The most that a concerted
drive to conquer the North could achieve would be to annex
to the independent Irish state the Catholic-majority areas
along the Border - that is, move the Border north and east.
They positively did not want that: the existence of a big
Catholic minority in the North constituted their strongest
argument against Partition (and in the 1960s and 70s it
would destabilise the Six Counties and be the undoing of
the Protestant government in Belfast).

There was, and after 1949 remained, a very important
distinction between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in that
Fianna Fail (like the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein today)
simply "blamed England" for not "persuading" or coercing
the Six Counties Unionists into a united Ireland, and Fine
Gael, not closing its eyes entirely to Northern Ireland
realities, tended to look more for an intra-Irish and not a
British solution.

But for the self-reconstituting physical-force movement of
the late 1940s, stimulated by the crescendo of official
anti-partition propaganda, war on the "Crown Forces" in
"British-occupied Ireland" became their reason for the
existence of their movement.

The idea of invading the Six Counties had been rejected in
the discussions of the late 1930s which had redefined
physical-force Republicanism in the aftermath of De
Valera's settlement with England. Instead the IRA, forming
an alliance with Germany, had declared war on England.

Now they would try invading the North. In their model of
revolution, the time was always ripe for revolutionary
action; or revolutionary action would make it ripe.
Everything depended on recruiting enough revolutionary
soldiers and procuring enough guns, bombs, and ammunition.

So, from the early 1950s, the IRA a-forming engaged in
raids for arms on British army and RUC barracks in Northern
Ireland and in Britain. They would not from this point on
engage in conflict with the 26 Counties state. If cornered
in the 26 Counties they would lay down their weapons and

The raiders sometimes succeeded in getting away with
weapons; sometimes they were caught and jailed. A new
generation was hardened and tempered in Britain's jails.
Among them was an Englishman with an Irish mother, John
Stephenson, who, gaelicised as Sean MacStiofain, would be
the first Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA in 1969.

It was all very small scale, no more than nuisance-level
stuff. But the attendant publicity won them recruits from
among young people whose opinion of the "Six Counties
problem" had been formed in the history lessons in Southern
schools and by the official propaganda of the state and the
Southern political parties, especially Fianna Fail and
Clann na Poblachta.

Ardent young people were steeped in romanticised
nationalist history, in a sado-masochistic fundamentalist
Catholicism with its central cult of the scourged and
crucified God sacrificing himself for humanity, and in the
mystique of the "blood sacrifice" of the "men of 1916" -
which was more poetic myth than history. It was difficult
for them to understand why the Southern Establishment and
the constitutional nationalist parties did not use force.
Difficult for them to forgive them for not doing it.

Dominic Behan - who came from a Stalinist-Republican family
in Dublin - brilliantly portrays this mindset in his song,
"The Patriot Game", about Fergal O'Hanlon, an adolescent
Republican killed in January 1957 on a raid into Northern

"My name is O'Hanlon, and I've just turned sixteen.
My home is in Monaghan, and where I was weaned
I learned all my life cruel England's to blame,
So now I am part of the patriot game.

This Ireland of ours has too long been half free.
Six counties lie under John Bull's tyranny.
But still De Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the Patriot game...

I don't mind a bit if I shoot down police
They are lackeys for war never guardians of peace...".

The elements of the mindset are all here: the revolutionary
(indeed, quasi-anarchist) attitude to the state; the
identification of the Six Counties `problem' as only
another episode in the long heroic struggle of Catholic
Ireland to be free of England; the bitterness towards the
"shirking", cowardly, traitorous, aged ex-Republican
Establishment of the 26 Counties; the will to sacrifice
everything; and even the wish for martyrdom.

In a cause which blended and melded religion and national
feeling until they were inextricable, there was more than a
little in common with today's Islamist would-be martyrs.
The young men from puritanical, poor, self-mythologising
Catholic Ireland who attacked along the partition border
also felt that they represented a religion and a culture
and an ancient civilisation far superior to the English
embodiment of what Yeats had named "the filthy modern

This "second generation" of Republicans of the era after
the De Valera Constitution of 1937 grew up in an Ireland
considerably different from the Ireland of the 1930s. Then,
the echoes of the Irish national revolution of 1916-23
still reverberated. Much was as yet unsettled. Emigration
had more or less stopped in the 1930s, and the pressure to
"find a solution" to social problems within Ireland was
strong. There was a strong current then of populist left-
wing Republicanism.

Even the right-wing IRA of that time in the Irish small
towns and the countryside took into itself and gave
distorted expression to all sorts of social conflicts. On a
rank and file level it was very much a movement of the town
and country labourers. Its rejection of the existing Irish
states allowed it to express revolutionary social drives,
as in its time anarchism had done in the countries of
southern Europe. Socially, the IRA functioned as a quasi-
anarchist movement. (See Workers' Liberty 58, October 1999,
for a more detailed account of the social role of the IRA
in the South).

For the "second generation", rising out of the grave of the
Republican movement smashed at the beginning of the 1940s,
everything was changed. Populist left-wing Republicanism
was almost forgotten (though its main proponents, Paedar
O'Donnell and George Gilmore, were still alive: they would
begin to regain influence in the 1960s).

Mass emigration - a thousand a week from a population of
not quite three million all through the 1950s and 60s -
siphoned off much of the old social tension. The town and
country labourers had fled - often followed by their
families - once World War Two made jobs abundant in
England's cities.

The rule of the bourgeoisie was stabilised. The radical
smaller bourgeoisie who had backed De Valera had grown fat.
Within its bourgeois-democratic facade, Ireland was more of
a theocracy than Portugal or Spain, ruled as they were then
by clerical-fascist regimes.

It was the world of the Cold War, in which everywhere the
Catholic Church was the vanguard of the struggle against
"Communism" (that is, Stalinism) and every sort of
socialism. Public life in Ireland was deeply right wing and
heavily hierarchical and authoritarian, in a way and to a
degree which it is difficult now even to imagine.

One way into it for us will be to look at public life in a
typical southern "Republican" town at that time, Ennis in
the county Clare. Ennis was the centre of De Valera's
constituency, the county town, with an urban population of
about five thousand and maybe two times that many people in
the surrounding rural areas. It was a market town, a town
of boys' and girls' colleges, the local centre of business
and state administration. In its range of functions and
activities it was a small city.

It is a very old town, and one of the few in Ireland not
founded by Vikings, Normans, or English. It had grown up,
from the 13th century, on an island in the River Fergus,
around a Franciscan monastery and as the seat of a local
king. It had a long tradition of nationalism and militant

There, in the mid 18th century, the Methodist John Wesley,
when he tried to preach in the market place, had been
howled down by Catholics, who legally had few rights under
the anti-Catholic "Penal Laws"; there, in 1828, Daniel
O'Connell had been returned to parliament to win "Catholic
Emancipation" in 1829.

There, the first avowedly Parnellite MP, pledged to disrupt
the Westminster Parliament in pursuit of Irish Home Rule,
had been elected in 1880; there Parnell had delivered a
famous speech advocating the tactic of "shunning" the
enemies of the peasants, the policy that became known as
"boycotting", after its first well-known target.

There, one of the first two Sinn Fein MPs pledged to leave
the London Parliament and set up an independent Irish
Republican parliament in Dublin had been elected in 1917 -
Eamonn De Valera.

It was also a town with a - sometimes militant - labour
movement, though the proletarians were a minority of less
than 25% among the shopkeepers, monks, priests, civil
servants, school and college teachers, lawyers, and
doctors, etc (see Workers Liberty no.58, October 1999).

We will look at the public and political life of Ennis in

"An Tostal" - or Ireland At Home - was a short-lived
attempt to create a kitsch-Irish annual event for tourists.
The first was celebrated throughout Ireland at Easter 1953.

In Ennis it was opened on Easter Sunday by "the Lord Bishop
Dr Rogers", coadjutant Bishop of the Diocese of Killaloe.

In a public ceremony in the grounds of the courthouse - a
large and imposingly columned limestone building, built in
the 1840s to cow the taigs - Bishop Rogers blessed the
members of the FAC (territorial army), the organisation of
national ex-servicemen (ex-members of the Free State army),
members of the "old IRA" (veterans of the War of
Independence), the Catholic Boy Scouts, the blue-uniformed
Red Cross and the light-blue uniformed ambulance volunteer
organisation known as the Knights of Malta. He also blessed
flags for "The Irish Countrywomen's Association" and for
business firms and for airlines operating out of Shannon
Airport (15 miles away)...

"His Lordship" as the Clare Champion called him, told them
that the flags "denoted service" to the country and to
their fellow men. The "Blessing of God" was on all the
flags and he hoped they would be used in the service of
God, of their country and their fellow men."

He was "glad to see that the first act of those present at
the opening of An Tostal was to march to the cathedral and
kneel before the feet of Jesus Christ". glad to see "their
young soldiers stand as a guard of honour" at the Cathedral
"to their eucharistic king and pledge loyalty and fealty to

He presented each of them with a special flag. Members of
the FAC had formed a guard of honour inside the Cathedral,
around the altar rails during mass. When the wafer which
was "the body and blood" of Christ was help up in a golden
monstrance - shaped like a spikey sunburst - the soldiers
presented arms.

At a special concert, an army band played music, "The march
of the Dalcassians", written especially for the occasion by
Dr Regge, the Belgian professor of music at the town's St
Flannan's college, named for the quasi-mythical first
Bishop of Killaloe in the Dark Ages.

On the Tuesday there was a lecture on "The land of the
Dalcassians". The Dalcassians were a Clare sept that
produced the great king Brian Boru in the 10th and early
11th centuries.

There was a clay pigeon shooting contest; a golf-club
contest; an exhibition by the Red Cross; a "Tostal
Publicity Dance" at 7s 6d a ticket (labourers in the town
earned about œ3 a week); and a concert by the "Ennis Massed

Finally, on the last Sunday, there was a special service at
the Cathedral to mark the end of An Tostal. Afterwards, De
Valera, the senior Clare TD and still Taoiseach, took the
salute at a "march past" in the square, standing on a
plinth at the foot of a giant column on which, high up in
the sky, stood a statue of Daniel O'Connell.

"Marching past" were the organisations that marched past
Bishop Rogers at the start of An Tostal, and others. Pupils
- a lot of them future priests - at St Flannan's College;
pupils from the school run by the Christian Brothers (a
monk-like teaching order); from the vocational school, from
the nun-run college and boarding school; from the convent
(nun-run) girls' school, and from the (priest-managed)
boys' National School; Irish dancers in stylised "ancient"
costumes; workers from the one real factory in the town
(making laces and braid) and from the tiny, foreign-
managed, and recently-started cultured pearl factory;
members and employees of the Ennis Urban Council; and the
Ennis Fire Brigade.

There was also a beauty contest to select "Miss An Tostal",
and an exhibition of the "national game", hurling.

This was a tightly managed world, at the head and heart of
which stood the bishops, priests, friars, and nuns. The
nuns also ran the County Home, the renamed workhouse
established under the British Poor Law, which was hospital,
infirmary, fever hospital, and pauper asylum.

The strange mix of kitsch invented tradition, militarism
and piety, Republicanism and abject, though addled, king-
worship, which I have described, was not one culture in a
pluralistic society. It was the only culture, organising
and permeating the entire life of the townspeople. There
would have been weak "other cultures" in Dublin and Cork:
but otherwise this culture ruled everywhere, saturated

The newspaper of the town and country, the Clare Champion,
was run by the McGuire family, who were members of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians. A ramshackle, old-fashioned,
under-edited paper, packed with information on the lives in
the town, it was more like a political "cadre paper" (or
more like The United Irishman) than a modern newspaper.
There is no reason to suppose it was exceptional.

Every issue would have consciousness-forming articles about
events in the nationalist or Catholic calendar - about
uprisings and resistances to the foreign heretical tyrants
(taught also in school history), but with special reference
to Clare.

The cause of Ireland was always the cause of Catholicism,
and vice versa - that was the message. It was an integrated
world outlook. The dominant ideal was one of a society of
small producers.

The clergy made systematic propaganda against socialism.

It was the aftermath of the defeat of the Mother and Child
scheme (see Solidarity 3/56). The clergy thought of England
(now Tory-ruled) and Northern Ireland as "socialist"
because of the post-war Labour government's reforms.

In February 1953, under the headline "Lecture on
socialism", the Clare Champion reported extensively on a
talk given in the town by a Jesuit priest, Paul Crane of
the "Oxford School of Social Studies". It was presided over
by Bishop Rogers and attended by the priests of the town,
including the clerical teachers at the Christian Brothers
school and St Flannan's College, and National school
teachers - the intelligentsia of the town.

Rogers declared that: "God has stamped each soul with a
very distinctive brand and has given to every individual
the right to earn and be independent. It would be a very
sorry prospect if the state was to help not only the
necessitous but everybody else as well".

Rogers "noted" "the schemes put forward to remove the ills
of mankind" and was "very disturbed by socialism,
communism, and other `isms'."

The other "isms" included fascism, though he didn't name
it. In the 1930s Rogers' coadjutant Bishop, Dr Fogarty, had
been an outspoken Blueshirt fascist, and it would be
surprising if Rogers hadn't been one too.

The English Jesuit despaired of England and, though he
didn't mention it, of the North. "The Englishman did not
know how his country stood through the prices of
commodities because socialism was controlling the rent of
his house, the price of the coal he bought, and subsidising
other commodities". The state should not do such things. In
England, "socialism wanted to plan the life of the
individual for him. A man was left without any motive for
extra effort by the so-called free social services. The
state then had to tax heavily..." Socialism sapped the will
to work.

A vote of thanks to the lecturer and to Rogers for
presiding was passed unanimously.

These people - and the IRA - subscribed to an idea of
Ireland as a simple commodity producing society. It had
little purchase on the modern industrial society in north-
east Ireland.

This was the social and mental world in which arose the
second generation of Northern-Ireland-focused physical-
force Republicans.

It was defined not by Irish Republicanism as a democratic
revolutionary creed which aimed like Wolfe Tone to "unite
the people of Ireland, Protestant, Catholic, and
Dissenter", but by the ethnic-sectarian "history", Catholic
identity, and outlook of the Catholic Orange Order, the
Ancient Order of Hibernians.

This IRA/ Sinn Fein was deeply right wing and profoundly
Catholic. Their monthly publication, The United Irishman,
was a narrow-minded piece of ethnic-sectarian devotional
literature, celebrating the past, lauding martyrs,
propagating a fantastically distorted picture of the
Ireland (and especially the Northern Ireland) which they
proposed to transform by guns and bombs.

They subscribed to all sorts of right-wing mental and
political debris from the 1930s and 40s. Influential
writers in The United Irishman believed in such things as
"Jewish capital", which was the cause of all that was wrong
with capitalism. They were still oriented to the alliance
with Hitler's Germany that had consumed the previous
Republican movement (some of whom, of course, survived to
shape the re-formed movement).

A layer of these "Republicans" were devotees of a cult of
the Virgin Mary called "Maria Duce" (Duce as in Mussolini's
equivalent of Hitler's "Fhrer", "Il Duce"), run by a
fascist priest, Father Dennis Fahy.

Fahy had published an edition of "The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion", the forgery about "the world Jewish
conspiracy" concocted by the Tsarist secret police, the
Okhrana, at the beginning of the 20th century, and
described accurately by one writer as a "warrant for
genocide" - for the slaughter inflicted on the Jews of
Europe in the middle of the 20th century. The title of
Fahy's edition was Waters Flowing Eastward.

Fahy had published pamphlets in the 1930s, in one of which
he classified Trotsky's "Fourth International" as only a
front for the more militant policies of Stalin's state.

He was a crank, but not an isolated one. Fahy was Professor
of Philosophy and Christian History at the Holy Ghost
Missionary College, Dublin, a man of some influence in

Maria Duce preached corporatist economics, anti-semitism
and anti-"communism", and it found ready believers among
the mid-1950s Republicans, influenced as they were by other
reactionary ideas from the 1930s and from their alliance
with fascism in the early 1940s. This was one of the
aspects of the Republican movement which led Matt Merrigan
to classify it as fascistic.

A freak of political history is that one of the Fahyites,
Gery Lawless, became a sort of Trotskyist in London in the
early 1960s (see WL.58).

Such was the "Republican" movement that "invaded" Northern
Ireland in December 1956.

Workers' Liberty
P.O. Box 823, London SE15 4NA Phone 020 7207 3997
Australia: P.O.Box 313,
Leichhardt 2040 Phone 07 3102 4681


The Men Who Make Les Miracles

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 18/12/2006

The duo behind the all-conquering 'Les Mis' have a new West
End blockbuster waiting in the wings. They talk exclusively
to Jasper Rees

Two months ago, Les Mis‚rables overtook Cats to become the
longest-running musical in British theatre history. It is
21 years since the show's iconic barricade was raised in
the West End after a short occupation of the Barbican.

On song: Claude-Michel Schonberg (left) and Alain Boublil

At one time, with Les Mis up and running in 47 cities,
there was only one hour in any given 24-hour period when
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Sch"nberg's triumphant show
was not playing somewhere in the world.

It is safe to assume that they could contentedly repair to
homes in the sun, and, left to their own devices, perhaps
they would. But people will keep on calling them.

They have just spent six months helping Cameron Mackintosh
re-mount a scaled-down Les Mis in a Broadway theatre just
vacated by The History Boys, only three years after its 13-
year run came to an end. Boublil was shocked to receive the

"I said, 'Why? It's so early.' Cameron said he had been
waiting for the theatre to be free for a very long time.
And the American tour which lasted for more than 10 years
was finished, so he had the set."

"Generally, when you redevelop a show," adds Sch"nberg, the
more laconic of the two, "it's not after three years."

Productions of Les Mis will doubtless continue to sprout
till the end of time, and there's also life in Miss Saigon
yet, with half a dozen new shows due to open in the next
two years. Their more pressing engagement in New York is in
April, when their first new musical for 10 years opens on

The Pirate Queen is not their baby. They were invited by
the producers of another globe-trotting brand, Riverdance,
to adapt a novel by the Irish-American writer Morgan
Llywelyn called Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas, about
Grace O'Malley, a 16th-century Irish pirate.

"They wrote explaining that they wanted to produce a
musical," says Sch"nberg, "but only if we agreed to do it
with them."

Even after devouring all the source material, the pair were
unpersuaded until their attention was caught by a meeting
between their heroine and Elizabeth I. Unlike Schiller's
imaginary encounter between Elizabeth and Mary Queen of
Scots in Mary Stuart, this one actually took place.

"We just had to dig out that part of the story," says
Boublil. "Little by little, we realised that we could
develop something which at the end of the show has the
strength of a Javert-Valjean confrontation. They were
extraordinary women in power at a time when women had no
power at all."

Sch"nberg, who was brought up in Celtic Brittany, set about
composing music which he describes as "Irish-ish. It's the
same process as writing music for a story in Vietnam: you
try to make it sound Asian-ish."

Incorporating the more historically accurate of the
Riverdance steps, the show recently completed a run in
Chicago. If, after the usual reconstructive surgery, it
emerges successful, The Pirate Queen will no doubt take up
residence in London, too.

If it hurries, it may even get here before Boublil and
Sch"nberg have another - previously unannounced - new
musical up and running in the West End.

Marguerite is based on the more copper-bottomed source of
La Dame aux cam‚lias, the Dumas novel pounced on by Verdi
and adapted as the opera La traviata. Boublil and Sch"nberg
are as ever writing the book, but Sch"nberg is ceding
compositional duties to the French film composer Michel

"How can I get jealous?" he says. "If Alain was working
with a tacky composer."

It was in fact Sch"nberg's idea to create a vehicle for
Boublil's wife Marie Zamora, who often guest-stars in
Legrand's concerts.

"So for that reason obviously I'm not going to say no,"
says Boublil. Marguerite will be directed by Jonathan Kent
and open in the spring of 2008.

An English premiŠre accords with the logic of their career
so far, in which durable success has been found only
outside France, where there is no musical-theatre
tradition. It was when Boublil heard Jesus Christ Superstar
as a young A & R man visiting New York that he and
Sch"nberg, a composer of pop songs, were spurred to write a
huge rock opera based on the French Revolution. As with
Superstar, they released it as an album before finding
producers to stage it. That was in 1973. The prototype
version of the 1,000-page Les Mis‚rables followed in 1980.

"At that time we knew nothing about musical theatre," says
Boublil. "We thought we were inventing something by daring
to touch a novel that even Puccini had renounced. Maybe if
we'd known then what we know now, we would not have touched

It was only when they visited Mackintosh in London in 1984
that, says Sch"nberg, they found "a huge family of musical
theatre we didn't know at all. Our conception of the
musical was closer to those people than the people working
in France. So once we were here, they were the people we
wanted to work with."

Boublil even settled here to co-write the libretto for Miss
Saigon. For Marguerite, he is back working with Herbert
Kretzmer, the TV critic turned lyricist who rendered Les
Mis into English.

They've learnt enough about musical theatre by now to know
precisely why Martin Guerre failed, despite heroic attempts
by Mackintosh to breathe life into the story of a peasant
accused of being an impostor when he returns from the wars
to his wife and his village. "There is something very wrong
with the basic story," says Boublil. "You have anti-heroes,
liars and thieves that you try to turn into heroes."

Can they possibly have another hit to rival their runaway
juggernaut with either of their two new musicals, one Irish
and mounted in America, the other French and mounted here?

"We do try our best each time," says Sch"nberg. "When it
happens once in a lifetime it's already a miracle. That
kind of success is beyond any reality. Nobody can explain


Thousands Mourn The Death Of GAA Official

By David Wilson

THOUSANDS of mourners have attended the funeral of one of
Co Derry's most respected GAA officials.

Martin McGeehan, club secretary at the Ballinderry
Shamrock's GAC for the past 12 years and former youth
officer and assistant secretary of the Derry County board
was buried at St Patrick's Church in the town.

Just days before his death, Mr McGeehan was also nominated
for the vacant position of Derry county secretary.

Mr McGeehan (53) died suddenly on Thursday.

Hundreds of mourners, including leading GAA

officials from across Ireland, filled St Patrick's church
while hundreds more mourners gathered outside.

Ballinderry players formed a guard of honour as Mr
McGeehan's remains were carried firstly from his home and
then from the church.

Derry county PRO Gerry Donnelly said yesterday's service
was a fitting tribute to Mr McGeehan.

"There was a massive turn out for this funeral that befits
such a humble man. The service and homily were beautiful."

"His passing is a big loss to the GAA, to Ballinderry and
to the local community. But mostly his loss will be felt by
his family. Our thoughts are with them now," he said

Mr McGeehan is survived by his wife Susan and his three
sons Stephen, Darren and Mark.


Arts Council Announces Circus Grants

18 December 2006 11:01

Circus organisations are to receive ?230,000 from the Arts
Council in 2007.

This is an increase of E100,000 on the money received by
circus groups last year.

Well-known acts including Fossetts' Circus and Duffy's
Circus are among the recipients.

Opera organisations including Opera Ireland and Wexford
festival Opera have been offered ?3.78 million, traditional
arts organisations have been offered ?1.87 million while
local authorities have been granted almost ?3.5 million.

This is an increase of almost ?0.5m on last year, with
specific support earmarked for children and young people.

This is the first announcement of grant aid from the Arts
Council for 2007.

Further decisions are expected in mid-January.

Chair of the Arts Council, Olive Braiden, said that circus,
opera and the traditional arts represent current priority
areas for the Arts Council and this is reflected in the
significant increases in levels of funding support that has
been offered through revenue funding.


PVL: New Strain Of MRSA Targets The Young

[Published: Monday 18, December 2006 - 10:17]
By By Jeremy Laurance

A nurse and a patient have died from a deadly new strain of
MRSA after a superbug outbreak at a hospital.

The Health Protection Agency said three other nurses in the
West Midlands hospital were among eight people who
contracted the new, more lethal strain of MRSA, four of
whom have infections including boils and abscesses. Two
have died.

It is the first time that the toxic strain of the superbug,
known as PVL-producing MRSA, has caused infection and
deaths in a hospital, the agency said. The outbreak has
alarmed public health officials who say it could pose risks
for staff as well as patients. The toxic PVL strain has
previously been detected only in small outbreaks among
healthy children and young people. It attacks the white
blood cells, destroys tissue and can cause boils up to 3
inches (10cms) across.

If it became established in hospitals, where people are
sicker, have lowered immunity and may have open wounds, it
could pose a much more serious threat. Ordinary hospital-
associated MRSA preys on older, sicker patients and does
not normally affect nurses and other staff.

The Health Protection Agency put out a warning to the NHS
at the weekend in its weekly Communicable Disease Report.
It said patients with boils and abscesses should be tested
for the new strain and the results sent to the Centre for
Infections in Colindale, north London.

In a statement, the agency said: "This outbreak is the
first time transmission and deaths due to this strain are
known to have occurred in a healthcare setting in England
and Wales. The HPA is advising the hospital on outbreak
control measures and will continue to monitor MRSA
infection rates nationally."

But a spokesman added: "There is no indication that [the
PVL strain] is widespread or gaining a foothold in
hospitals. It certainly would be of concern if it became

The lethal nature of the new strain of MRSA was
demonstrated two years ago when a physically fit young
soldier became infected after grazing his leg while out
running on Woodbury Common, Devon. Richard Campbell, 18, a
Royal Marine recruit, rapidly developed swelling in both
legs, became unable to walk and died two days later. A 28-
year-old woman also died after picking up the bug in her
local gym.

MRSA is carried on the skin of one in three healthy people
and can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. The bugs do
not usually cause problems in those with healthy immune
systems, but the PVL strain is more toxic.

It can enter the body through a scratch or pimple and can
develop into necrotising fasciitis, the so-called "flesh-
eating bug", which caused a nationwide panic when a cluster
of cases struck in Gloucester in the early 1990s. In rare
cases, it spreads to the lungs, causing pneumonia and
death. There were 13 cases of skin infections caused by the
strain reported in 2005 in England and Wales.

The HPA said the nurse died in September and had been well
before developing blood poisoning and pneumonia after an
operation at the hospital, which has not been named.

The source of the outbreak is thought to have been a
patient who died on the same ward several months earlier.
Investigations revealed the nurse had been infected with
the PVL strain of MRSA and another nurse on the same ward
who had a history of abscesses was also infected. It is
likely the nurse who died was carrying the bug on her skin
and it became a lethal infection when she had the

Further tests revealed that the toxic strain had also been
transmitted to two nurses working on a neighbouring ward,
one of whom had had a persistent eyelid infection for four
months. It was also transmitted to two of the nurses'

Evidence from the US shows that occurrence of the PVL
strain has soared since 1998, when the first cluster was
identified in North Dakota. Researchers in San Francisco
studying the PVL strain collected 6,000 cases in a year;
they had expected 200.

The Communicable Disease Report says there have been 12
reports worldwide of the PVL strains of MRSA transmitted in
hospitals. "This change in the epidemiology of MRSA demands
increased vigilance among healthcare personnel," it says.

Angela Kearns, an MRSA expert at the HPA, said: "When
people contract PVL-producing strains of MRSA, they usually
experience a skin infection such as a boil or abscess. Most
infections can be treated with everyday antibiotics but
occasionally a more severe infection will occur."

The PVL strain of Staphylococcus aureus was identified in
the 1930s and accounted for 60 per cent of all staph
infections before 1960. It was almost eliminated by
antibiotic methicillin in 1961, but has resurged, linked to
the growth of MRSA.


Cleaning up their acts

Government guidelines urge doctors and nurses to wash their
hands thoroughly between each patient. But a recent study
by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire showed
that 88 per cent of staff failed to wash properly, even
when dealing with infected patients. A separate study said
efforts to tackle infection rates by improving the
cleanliness of wards were failing because of poor hygiene.

The British Medical Association has suggested doing away
with superfluous items of clothing such as ties may help.
The Brighton and Sussex Hospital Trust - which has one of
the highest rates of infections - recently told staff to
avoid wearing ties and jewellery.

Victim was a 'super-fit' marine recruit

By Andrew Johnson

Richard Campbell-Smith was just four weeks from completing
his training as a Royal Marine when he scratched himself on
a gorse bush during a week-long training exercise in
October 2004.

The 18-year-old recruit, described as "super-fit",
contracted the common bacterial bug staphylococcus, which
usually produces a small amount of pus in a graze.

But he was soon finding it hard to walk and was admitted to
the medical centre in Lympstone, Devon. Two days later he
collapsed by his bed and was taken to hospital. He died
there from what doctors said was heart and respiratory

The common bacteria had produced the deadly toxin Panton
Valentine Leukocidin (PVL), which is linked to MRSA. It had
spread rapidly, causing his major organs to fail. A post-
mortem showed he died of cardiac and respiratory failure,
but traces of PVL were also found.

At his inquest, it was suggested the bacteria had entered
his blood through blisters on his feet and cuts to his
legs, suffered during the rigorous military exercise. The
PVL killed white blood cells, leaving him unable to fight
the original infection, no matter what treatment was given.

His grandmother, Edwina Fooks, 74, of Bournemouth, who had
looked after him since his parents died, said: "He called
me and said the training and been hard that week and it had
been pouring with rain and freezing cold. He said he was
very, very cold and his hip hurt and he couldn't walk. I
was worried because he never feels the cold. It was so
unusual for him to be unwell."

Other cases have been reported in America, France and

c Belfast Telegraph

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