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December 11, 2006

SF Welcomes EU Peace Process Initiative

News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 12/11/06 SF Welcomes EU Initiative On Peace Process
BB 12/11/06 Assembly Clashes Over Gay Rights
BB 12/11/06 Sinn Fein Using Ministerial Suite
SF 12/11/06 SF Plays Down Significance Of Office Allocation
SF 12/11/06 Sinn Féin Case Against IMC Reaches High Court
UT 12/11/06 Dermot Ahern To Raise Collusion Issue
IT 12/12/06 O'Loan Finds Murder Of Soldier Not Preventable
BT 12/11/06 DUP: McCartney Could Fracture The Unionist Vote
BB 12/11/06 Trial Told Of Forensic 'Errors'
MS 12/10/06 Blog: Irish Times Ltr Today British Collusion.
FA 12/11/06 Bill Establishing Irish-American Heritage Mth
EE 12/11/06 Sheen‘s Studies An Extraordinary Adventure
IT 12/12/06 'Bidding Up' Of Properties Claim Made
IT 12/12/06 Fermoy Pips Dundalk To Take Cleanest Town Title
IT 12/12/06 Litter Rankings: How Your Town Fared
IT 12/12/06 Cliffs Of Moher Buskers Win Approval


Sinn Féin Welcome For EU Commission President Initiative On Peace Process

Published: 11 December, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the initiative
taken by the European Commission president José Manuel
Barroso to invite the leaders of the four main parties to
Brussels for talks as part of the ongoing process of
completing a programme for government for the future

Ms de Brún said:

"The European Union has played an important role
encouraging the development of the peace process in Ireland
over the past decade and more. I am encouraged that the
European Commission president José Manuel Barroso plans to
build upon this by issuing invitations to the four parties
which would make up any new Executive.

"Sinn Féin are anxious to see the job of putting together
an acceptable programme for government for the incoming
Executive completed quickly. We are also keen for a proper
funding package to be put in place to allow any new
executive to adequately tackle the important issues which
are facing communities at this time and we have been
working at European level on this for some time including
our campaign to secure Peace III funding.

"Sinn Féin look forward to travelling to Brussels to meet
with President Barroso and his team to discuss how best the
EU can best continue to support the political process as we
seek to put the power sharing and all-Ireland institutions
back in place by March 26th." ENDS


Assembly Clashes Over Gay Rights

An NI assembly motion condemning government plans to
introduce equality legislation for gays, lesbians and
bisexuals has fallen after a tied vote.

After a two-hour debate at Stormont, 39 assembly members
voted in favour of a DUP motion and 39 against.

The party claimed the new legislation could place
Christian-run businesses on the "wrong side of the law".

DUP sources claimed the vote was tied because Sinn Fein was
"able to use the vote of a deceased asssembly member".

West Belfast assembly member Michael Ferguson died in
September. The St Andrews Agreement Act enables parties to
use the vote of an assembly member who has died but has not
yet been replaced.


During the debate, the DUP said Christian-run businesses
would be deemed to be breaking the law "if they refused
access to their goods and services on eithical grounds".

Both the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party criticised the
government for implementing the Equality Act (Sexual
Orientation) Regulations in Northern Ireland on 1 January
ahead of the rest of the UK and for "holding only a two-
month consultation".

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson claimed the regulations would
make schools which teach traditional Christian views
"liable to a harassment claim from gay pupils if they
taught homosexuality was sinful".

"All six of the world's major religions are opposed to
homosexual practice. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all
teach that homosexual practice is sinful," he said.

"The regulations will interfere with the freedom to
manifest to one's religion because these are new

Sinn Fein equality spokeswoman Caitriona Ruane accused the
DUP of "whipping up homophobic sentiment with the motion".

"This motion is part of yesterday's agenda, part of the bad
old days of the past," she said.

"Move on - show leadership. Days of second-class
citizenship and hiding our identities are gone."

Ulster Unionist Dermot Nesbitt said the law would "leave
Christian bookshops and adoption agencies vulnerable to
harassment claims, despite their deeply-held views".

"There are certain fundamental issues that require to be
addressed and the process by which this government is
taking this act forward not only denies that proper process
of equality throughout the United Kingdom, but also denies
the rights of people who truly feel very concerned," he

SDLP equality spokeswoman Patricia Lewsley, whose party`s
youth wing staged a protest against the motion outside
Parliament Buildings, accused the DUP of "scaremongering".

"All they will prevent is discrimination and harassment -
not the teaching of religious doctrine," she said.

"Harassment only occurs if there is unwanted conduct which
has purpose or intent of violating dignity or creating an
intimidating, degrading or offensive environment."

Alliance Party leader David Ford acknowledged that the
government`s consultation period during August and
September "was not ideal".

"I am not sure that there would have been any different
response had there been another four weeks or another 14
weeks," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/11 17:01:14 GMT


Sinn Fein Using Ministerial Suite

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has started working in a
suite of offices which used to be allocated to Northern
Ireland's deputy first minister.

The party said it had taken up an offer of additional
resources to assist its work on the new Stormont Programme
for Government Committee.

However, it said it was not using the old deputy first
minister's office.

The DUP is considering if it will take up accommodation
offered to the four main parties by the secretary of state.

Sinn Fein has been allocated a number of offices in the
suite which used to be occupied by Seamus Mallon and Mark
Durkan when they were deputy first ministers.

The work is being led by Mr McGuinness.

The additional resources mean three extra advisors who will
be paid the equivalent of £45,000 per year.

The DUP has insisted neither Mr McGuinness nor DUP leader
Ian Paisley should have any trappings of office.

Fresh elections

The DUP said it had yet to decide whether to take up the
extra resources.

DUP sources said in the future the first and deputy first
minister's offices are likely to be in Stormont Castle not
the assembly building.

Sinn Fein nominated Mr McGuinness as deputy first minister
when the assembly met on 24 November.

DUP leader Ian Paisley has said that if all his conditions
are fulfilled he will accept the first minister's post
after a spring election.

The deadline for devolution is 26 March, with fresh
assembly elections set for 7 March.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/11 15:57:07 GMT


SF Plays Down Significance Of Stormont Office Allocation

11/12/2006 - 15:05:44

Sinn Féin has been given four offices in Stormont's
Parliament Buildings which used to be the Deputy First
Minister's suite, it emerged today.

However, the party's Assembly Group leader John O'Dowd
insisted the offices were given by Northern Peter Hain as
additional resources to support its work on the Stormont
Programme for Government Committee and not for use as a
Deputy First Minister's Office.

The Upper Bann MLA said: "Sinn Féin has been allocated a
number of offices in what was the Deputy First Minister
suite but not at this point the Deputy First Minister's
Office itself.

"The party will be using these additional resources to take
forward our preparation for government and this work is
being led by Martin McGuinness."

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams signalled two weeks ago in
the Assembly in the event of devolution returning next
March Mr McGuinness would be his party's choice as Deputy
First Minister if they remained the second largest party.

Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley did not indicate in
the Assembly chamber his intention to be First Minister,
but subsequently told the PA news agency that he would take
the role, provided republicans fulfilled their obligations
under the St Andrews Agreement and the party remained the
largest in the Assembly.

Mr Hain's decision to offer the offices follow moves to
allow the four executive parties advisers.

It is understood Mr Hain made it clear in a letter that the
facilities, which include office furniture, IT equipment
and email, were being made available to the four parties
who would form an executive – Sinn Féin, the Democratic
Unionists, Ulster Unionists and the SDLP – in connection
with the work of the Programme for Government Committee
until March 25 of next year.

The Northern Secretary stressed it was not an Office for
First and Deputy First Minister.

However he said the gesture was being made in recognition
of the demands on the Programme for Government Committee
and to ensure it was adequately supported to tackle key
issues such as education, the review of public
administration and an economic package for any future

Mr Hain approved funding for three advisers each for the
DUP and Sinn Féin - the two largest Assembly parties.

The UUP and SDLP has been offered funding for one adviser
each – equivalent to a salary of £45,000 (€66,560) per

An administrative support staff was also proposed to help
advisers liaise with government departments including
ministerial briefings.


Sinn Féin Case Against IMC Reaches High Court

Published: 11 December, 2006

Sinn Féin MP for Newry Armagh Conor Murphy today revealed
that a case being taken by the party seeking a declaration
that the establishment of the IMC was unlawful will be
heard of the next three days at the High Court in London.

Speaking today before travelling to London to attend the
case Mr Murphy said:

" When the IMC was established Sinn Féin made clear our
absolute opposition to this body. It was established
outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and has
proven itself to be little more than a tool of anti-peace
process securocrats.

" The decision to challenge the legality of the IMC was the
latest stage in our legal and political campaign against
the IMC and the cover it has provided for the British
government to sanction and discriminate against our

" In this case we will be arguing that the establishment of
the IMC was unlawful. We will be arguing that the IMC
should be declared unlawful on the grounds of apparent bias
and lack of any application of standards of proof. We are
seeking the reports of the IMC to date declared void and
the reliance on these reports by the British Secretary of
State declared unlawful.

" Sinn Féin have consistently rejected the IMC and their
attacks on our party and electorate. It is undemocratic,
unaccountable and entirely unacceptable and our campaign to
ensure that the British government returns to the Good
Friday Agreement position on sanctions against those in
breach of the GFA will continue." ENDS


Dermot Ahern To Raise Collusion Issue

The Irish government will raise fresh allegations of
collusion involving British security forces in Northern
Ireland in the 1970s when it meets top British officials in
London tomorrow.

By:Press Association

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern is expected to
demand full co-operation from Prime Minister Tony Blair`s
administration into ongoing inquiries by the Dail
parliament, at the British-Irish Inter-Governmental
Conference (BIIGC).

An Irish parliamentary committee found widespread collusion
between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in
three 1970s atrocities that claimed 18 lives.

They included the Miami Showband massacre and the bombing
of Kay`s Tavern in Dundalk and the Three Star Inn in
Castleblaney, County Monaghan.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow`s high-level meeting between
British and Irish politicians, Mr Ahern said:

"It is absolutely essential the British government co-
operate fully with investigations into allegations of
British collusion in loyalist attacks during the mid-1970s.

"Its findings are stark and deeply troubling. The issues
must be fully investigated. There is no doubt there was

Secretary of State Peter Hain and Northern Ireland Office
ministers will also attend tomorrow`s BIIGC meeting.

Mr Ahern said that he spoke by telephone with Mr Hain after
the publication of the Oireachtas Justice Committee reports
on November 29 and the Secretary of State indicated the
British Government would offer every possible co-operation.

"I stressed at the time the importance of full and
unfettered British cooperation with the ongoing
investigations and enquiries into these matters, as the
government has consistently made clear to the British
Government," Mr Ahern said.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also raised the issue at length with
Mr Blair in London last week.

The hard-hitting Oireachtas Justice Committee reports
claimed people employed by the British authorities to
preserve peace and protect people were "engaged in the
creation of violence and the butchering of innocent


O'Loan Finds IRA Murder Of Soldier Not Preventable

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The North's Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, has found there
is no evidence that the murder of the last British soldier
killed by the IRA in Northern Ireland could have been

She reported, however, that the car used in the murder of
Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick (23) was under
surveillance at the time of the killing.

She launched her investigation following claims by a former
undercover British soldier who used the pseudonym Tom
Buchanan. He told the Sunday Times in the summer of 2004
that colleagues in a specialist undercover surveillance
unit informed him at the time that they had been following
the movements of the IRA sniper gang that killed Lance
Bombardier Restorick.

Mrs O'Loan reported yesterday that the soldier alleged that
both the gun and the car used by the IRA were bugged by the
British army but that police allowed the attack to go
ahead. "The article suggested that police might have wanted
to protect an informant," she said.

Mrs O'Loan said her investigators had not uncovered any
evidence to suggest that Lance Bombardier Restorick's
murder could have been prevented. "The man who made these
allegations was a former member of the Special Forces, but
he was not present on the day of the attack nor was he part
of a surveillance team."

"While we have uncovered evidence that the stolen Mazda car
used in the attack was under surveillance, we have found no
evidence that a listening device had been planted onboard
nor that anyone knew about the specific plans for the car
that day. We also examined the issue of whether the gun
used in the attack had been fitted with a tracking device,
as alleged by the undercover officer. I am satisfied, given
the level of evidence obtained during the inquiry, that
this was not the case," she added.

Mrs O'Loan said her investigators were given access to
sensitive and secret intelligence documents held by RUC
Special Branch and the British army. She expressed concern,
however, "about the level of information and original
documentation which had been destroyed". This had included
documentation about a surveillance operation under way in
the area at the time.

The ombudsman said it was "very regrettable" police did not
pay closer attention to the Mazda car, given they had
concerns about it. "However, we have not uncovered any
evidence they had information which would have allowed them
to prevent Stephen's murder."


DUP Claims McCartney Could Fracture The Unionist Vote

[Published: Monday 11, December 2006 - 12:38]
By By Noel McAdam

The DUP has warned Robert McCartney against "fracturing"
the unionist vote and handing Sinn Fein an extra seat on an

As all the parties prepare initial arrangements for the
Assembly election due in March, DUP MLA Arlene Foster urged
the independent unionist leader to "search his soul".

But Mr McCartney countered: "This was the cri de coeur of
David Trimble" and condemned the DUP statement as a "bully
boy" threat.

Speaking on the BBC's Politics Show, he said it was
"particularly ironic " given that the DUP was solely
responsible for creating the situation in crushing the
Ulster Unionist Party.

Danny Kennedy, deputy leader of the UUP Assembly group,
warned the DUP against attempting to "paper over the crack"
of the unionist " faultline".

"There is a faultline within the unionist community. In
political unionism that says Sinn Fein in government is a
step too far in any circumstances," Mr Kennedy told the

"It took the Ulster Unionist Party quite a while to realise
that. The DUP has made the same mistake ... that it can
somehow now paper over the cracks."

But Ms Foster said there were no splits within her party
but said she believed there was a "nervousness" in the
unionist community.

Unionists would not forgive Mr McCartney if he allowed Sinn
Fein to gain an extra seat. "In a way that's what happened
in 1998...and lead to a 50:50 Executive," she added.

Mr McCartney has admitted his party is on a "skeleton crew"
but urged disgruntled unionists to come on board.

© Belfast Telegraph


Trial Told Of Forensic 'Errors'

A review of the work of the Forensic Science service in
Northern Ireland found mistakes in more than a third of
cases, the Omagh bomb trial has heard.

In the last six years, the service had its accreditation
suspended twice, after revelations of a falsified signature
and lab practice concerns.

About 1,200 cases were checked and 455 were found to
contain mistakes.

Sean Hoey, 37, of County Armagh denies a total of 58
charges, including murder as a result of the 1998 Omagh

Mr Hoey is an electrician from Molly Road, Jonesborough.

The Omagh bomb trial heard that a review of the FSNI's work
was carried out by a consultancy firm, during a time when
the UK Accreditation Service had suspended the service's

A series of cases were checked between 2001 and 2003. In
that two-year period it was responsible for about 2,400
cases - of those, a sample 1,200 were reviewed.

The firm found 455 of the cases contained mistakes - more
than a third.

The acting operations director of the Forensic Science
Services Northern Ireland, Samuel James Speers, said the
errors were "generally administrative" and they were not
all the responsibility of that agency.

DNA confusion

But the judge, Mr Justice Weir, asked if that mattered.

He added: "Whether the errors were caused by the police or
the laboratory, errors still resulted".

On Tuesday, Mr Speers is expected to face further
questioning about the reasons for the lab's accreditation
being suspended twice - once in 2001 and once in 2003.

Earlier there were more questions about the reliability of
Low Copy Number DNA - a key part of the prosecution case
and an issue that has dominated the trial for weeks.

Dr Peter Gill a forensic scientist and expert in the field
accepted that there was still a "lot of confusion" about
the technique and differences in how it is used worldwide.

The trial continues.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/11 18:35:47 GMT


Blog: Irish Times Letter Today British Collusion.

Madam, - On RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland on November 30th
Sean Ardagh TD mentioned British refusal of co-operation as
a reason for not holding a public enquiry into the
“widespread collusion between British security forces and
terrorists [ that] was behind many, if not all, of a number
of atrocities on both sides of the Border that resulted in
18 deaths in the mid-1970s” (The Irish Times, November

But an official tribunal might usefully also inquire into
why the Garda and the Government were not “more vigorous in
their attempts to identify and bring to justice the
perpetrators”. Fianna Fáil dismissed the then Garda
Commissioner, Edmund Garvey, on its return to office in
1977. The reasons have never been properly explained.

Some former members of the British security forces might
cooperate with a public inquiry. Colin Wallace and Fred
Holroyd have spoken freely about collusion. Holroyd met
Commissioner Garvey in 1975, with other British forces
personnel. John Weir, a former RUC-UVF member, also appears
willing to talk. Retired RUC detective Johnston Brown, who
wrote Into the Dark, detailing his own impeccable record in
the RUC, might have relevant information to impart. Others
with information are likely to appear once an official
enquiry, with all the required safeguards, is set up.

A precedent has been set with an enquiry into alleged Garda
collusion in the killing of RUC officers. Why not one for
Irish citizens killed as a result of alleged collusion by
British military and police officers? The alternative
offered is a Dáil debate. But those outside parliament with
personal information would not be able to contribute. One
might be forgiven for getting the impression that there is
an attempt to limit inquiry. - Yours etc,

NIALL MEEHAN, Offaly Road, Dublin 7.


H.Res. 733 (Bill Establishing Irish-American Heritage
Month) Passed By The House On Thursday

H.Res. 733 (bill establishing Irish-American heritage
month) passed by the House on Thursday. The bill was
introduced in March by Tim Ryan (D-OH).

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

December 7, 2006.

Whereas, by 1776, nearly 300,000 people had emigrated
from Ireland to the United States;

Whereas, following the victory of General George
Washington's troops at Yorktown, Lord Mountjoy reported to
the British Parliament the surrender of General Charles
Cornwallis, proclaiming, "We have lost America through the
exertions of the Irish";

Whereas Irish-born Commodore John Barry was the first
flag officer of the United States Navy and is endeared by
many as the "Father of the American Navy";

Whereas at least 8 signers of the Declaration of
Independence were of Irish ancestry;

Whereas 19 Presidents of the United States proudly claim
Irish heritage, including the first President, George

Whereas Irish-born James Hoban designed the White House,
and he was integral in its restoration after it was
severely damaged by fire in 1814;

Whereas, in 1892, Annie Moore, from County Cork,
Ireland, was the first immigrant admitted through Ellis
Island, contributing to America's diverse culture by
offering the rich customs and culture of her native land;

Whereas at least 263 recipients of the Congressional
Medal of Honor proudly claim Ireland as their birthplace,
making Irish-born individuals the largest group of foreign-
born recipients of the prestigious honor;

Whereas Irish-American social reformer Elizabeth Cady
Stanton successfully championed women's voting rights,
which were granted in 1920 by the 19th amendment to the

Whereas pioneers of the American space program were of
Irish descent, including Kathryn Sullivan, the first woman
to walk in space, and Christa Corrigan McAuliffe, America's
first school teacher to bravely engage in space
exploration, who ultimately gave her life to the empiricism
of knowledge about the surrounding universe;

Whereas more than 44 million American citizens are of
Irish descent;

Whereas each year, on March 17th, the United States and
its citizens humbly observe St. Patrick's Day in honor of
the patron saint of Ireland; and

Whereas the Irish and their descendants have toiled
throughout the existence of the United States, contributing
significantly to the enrichment of all aspects of life in
this Nation, including military and public service,
science, education, agriculture, industry, dance, music,
theatre, film, literature, visual composition, business,
technology, athletics, and leadership: Now, therefore, be

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of
Representatives that—

(1) an Irish-American Heritage Month should be
established; and

(2) the people of the United States should observe
such a month with appropriate ceremonies, celebrations, and


Sheen’s Irish Studies ‘An Extraordinary Adventure’

11/12/2006 - 7:19:21 PM

Ireland's most famous mature student, Martin Sheen, said
today his college experience had been an extraordinary

The star, who is an Irish citizen and whose mother hails
from Tipperary, said he had lived his dream of returning to
his mother's homeland to study after spending four months
at university in Galway.

"I've been coming here pretty regularly over the years
since 1973," the actor, known for his role in as fictional
President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing TV series and the
iconic film Apocalypse Now, said.

"I have always had this romantic image of studying in
Ireland. I never went to college and I couldn't erase it
from my imagination and when The West Wing was drawing to a
close and I knew I would have that window, I said it is now
or never."

Sheen, who was talking about his latest film Bobby - about
Robert F Kennedy, written and directed by his son Emilio
Estevez - said he was made feel at home by students at the
National University of Ireland in Galway where he studied
several subjects, including earth and ocean science, for
the past four months.

"This country has maintained its humanity and it is
reflected in the feeling of community everywhere, people
don't say hello to you here, they bless you. It is
wonderful I have had the most extraordinary adventure the
last four months," said Sheen, who travels back to the US
in a week.

Tears welled up in Sheen's eyes as he spoke of fellow
student Donna Ferguson, 24, who died in a horrific road
crash last week.

The actor had met the post-graduate journalism student as
she attempted to seek an interview with him.

"As a father I have kids and grandkids her age, you just
can't imagine what that is like for a parent and it is
Christmas. She was so bubbly and enthusiastic," he said.

"The parents, I thought about going up to them. I didn't
want to make it about me because I didn't know them. So we
had a Mass said and I wrote them a letter, and I just try
to remember her."

Sheen, who is interested in making documentaries on the
environment, said he had never used a computer before
starting his course at the college and was now the proud
owner of a certificate in computers.

"I have never felt more at home. Ireland to me is the
safest place on Earth," he said.

But he admitted during his visits over the last 33 years he
had witnessed changes amid growing crime rates.

"I see some of these changes which are I think reflective
of drugs and alcohol, and now you have guys carrying guns
and shooting each other. This is very very sad, but you
know compared to what is out there you are still in the
infant stage of this, I hope that you can get it in hand,"
he said.

"Overall the view that we have of you is very much

The star, who does not drink alcohol, abstained from the
college party scene but went out to one movie table quiz
during his time there.

The slightly embarrassed actor revealed he answered just
two questions correctly, leaving his side second last out
of 26 teams.

"I had no interest in partying - they are kids, I am 66,"
he said.

Sheen, who took a minor part as a stockbroker in the movie
Bobby, said when Robert F Kennedy was killed in 1968 after
taking the California Primary in the elections many people
felt that was the last great hope for America.

He said his son was working to reawaken the echo of Bobby
Kennedy's voice at a time when many young people in America
have become discouraged with the movement towards paranoia
since 9/11.

"That is where we have been this last five years and this
administration has taken full advantage of it. Anyone
speaking out against the war or this administrations
policies had their patriotism questioned. It has been a
very difficult time," he said, ahead of the film opening in
Ireland and the UK in January.

"This is a very powerful, very arrogant man. And I have
always believed that arrogance is ignorance matured and I
can't think of a better example than George Bush but we
shall see.

"[Emilio] felt the time had come when we needed to be
reminded of a charismatic, idealistic passionate committed
public servant. Not another politician. And Bobby Kennedy
was one of the last of the real deals."

Sheen said many of Emilio's friends had taken roles in the
film ensuring a big-name cast of Laurence Fishburne,
Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt and Demi Moore.


'Bidding Up' Of Properties Claim Made

Orna Mulcahy

Ghost bidding, or manufacturing bids to get a higher price
for a property is widespread in the auctioneering business,
it was alleged last night on RTÉ's Prime Time programme.

Two anonymous contributors to the programme - both former
estate agents - said it is common practice for auctioneers
to "bid up" a property to the price they think a buyer can
afford, even if there is no competition for the property.

The programme also claimed that auctioneers will often sell
a property below its asking price simply to improve
turnover; that they direct certain properties to "pet
investors" in exchange for backhanders and that mortgage
providers share financial data on clients with estate
agents, who then know exactly how much those clients have
to spend.

As for pointing out potential flaws in a property, estate
agents will always accentuate the positive, the programme
confirmed. "If there are faults you step by them and keep
showing them the view," said one contributor.

Alan Cooke, chief executive of the self-regulatory body,
the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers Institute, pointed out
that estate agents were obliged to operate in the best
interests of their clients - the sellers - in order to get
the best price. A new regulatory authority is being set up
to police the auctioneering business but it is unlikely to
be in operation before the middle of next year.


Fermoy Pips Dundalk To Take Cleanest Town Title

Kitty Holland

Fermoy, Co Cork was yesterday named the most clean and
litter-free town in the State, just pipping Dundalk to the

The accolade was announced at a ceremony in Dublin, which
also heard there had been "dramatic" improvements in litter
levels generally across the State.

The survey, of 53 towns and urban areas in the State,
carried out by An Taisce, found the three cleanest towns to
be Fermoy, followed by Dundalk, Co Louth and Greystones, Co

However, Dr Tom Cavanagh, chairman of Irish Business
Against Litter (Ibal), which commissioned the survey, said
the managers of Dublin city would "have to get around the
table now and see what has to be done to get to grips with
the litter situation in the capital".

Though most of the State is getting cleaner, Dublin city
appears to be getting worse, having dropped back six places
from its ranking last year. It has been deemed a "litter
blackspot" in the anti-litter league survey and ranked last
of the areas inspected.

"It is incredible to see nearly half of the areas surveyed
reaching 'litter free' status but disappointing that our
capital city is so far behind the rest of the country and
doesn't seem to be improving," said Dr Cavanagh.

He said next year Dublin would not be included in the
survey but would instead be singled out for comparison with
the most clean European cities.

"There is no reason why Dublin should not be as clean as
the cleaner European cities of similar size," he said.

Also named as litter blackspots were Navan, Co Meath and
Naas and Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Dr Cavanagh said he was in no doubt this situation could be
turned around. "Cost just isn't an excuse here. The
Minister has ample means at hand through the recently
increased levies on plastic bags to finance the maintenance
of a clean capital."

"There has been an enormous improvement in the rest of the
country compared with six years ago when we started this.
Then people said the Irish were just dirty and careless and
it has been shown that with good management and commitment,
first by the local authorities and then by the citizens the
improvements can be made."

The survey of litter levels found the average Irish litter
level was now "just three percentage points away from the
European litter norm of 80 points".

"This is a huge improvement since 2002, when the survey
began, and the average town in Ireland was classed as a
'litter blackspot'," said a spokeswoman for Ibal.

An Taisce picked out Youghal, Co Cork, Bray, Co Wicklow and
Clonmel, Co Tipperary as areas that had demonstrated
"spectacular improvements in recent years" to reach their
current "litter free" status.

Nearly half of all areas were classed as "litter free",
including Galway city, Cork city and Waterford city.
Limerick city was deemed to be "moderately littered".

Chewing gum was once again a major source of litter, said
Dr Cavanagh. He criticised plans from Minister for the
Environment, Dick Roche to launch a publicity campaign on
chewing gum littering, calling it "weak" and suggested a
more effective way would be a levy on gum manufacturers
towards the cleaning of gum from the streets. He said
Dublin City Council had spent €40,000 cleaning gum last
year from Grafton Street alone.


Litter Rankings: How Your Town Fared


1 Fermoy Litter-free

2 Dundalk Litter-free

3 Greystones Litter-free

4 Wexford Litter-free

5 Youghal Litter-free

6 Galway city Litter-free

7 Bray Litter-free

8 Killarney Litter-free

9 Dungarvan Litter-free

10 Carlow Litter-free

11 Clonmel Litter-free

12 Enniscorthy Litter-free

13 Trim Litter-free

14 Cavan Litter-free

15 Ballina Litter-free

16 Thurles Litter-free

17 Monaghan Litter-free

18 Mallow Litter-free

19 Waterford city Litter-free

20 Longford Litter-free

21 Roscommon Litter-free

22 Cork city Litter-free

23 Kilkenny Litter-free

24 Sligo Litter-free

25 Athy Litter-free

26 Nenagh Litter-free

27 Tallaght Moderately littered

28 Drogheda Moderately littered

29 Shandon/Blackpool Moderately littered

30 Midleton Moderately littered

31 Portlaoise Moderately littered

32 Tullamore Moderately littered

33 Arklow Moderately littered

34 Limerick city Moderately littered

35 Finglas Moderately littered

36 Cobh Moderately littered

37 Newbridge Moderately littered

38 Swords Moderately littered

39 Letterkenny Moderately littered

40 Ennis Moderately littered

41 Tralee Moderately littered

42 Mullingar Moderately littered

43 Ballinasloe Moderately littered

44 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Moderately littered

45 Castlebar Moderately littered

46 Athlone Moderately littered

47 Leixlip Serious litter problem

48 Gorey Serious litter problem

49 Wicklow Serious litter problem

50 Navan Litter blackspot

51 Naas Litter blackspot

52 Maynooth Litter blackspot

53 Dublin city Litter blackspot


Cliffs Of Moher Buskers Win Approval

Gordon Deegan

Clare County Council yesterday ruled out the need to hold
auditions for the 17 musicians who have applied to busk at
the €31.5 million Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.

Project leader Ger Dollard confirmed yesterday that busking
licences were to be offered to the 17 who recently
completed interviews with the council.

Mr Dollard said: "We have met and interviewed all 17
applicants and have been very pleased with the approach of
the applicants and the genuine interest in having a
properly managed busking scheme at the Cliffs of Moher.

"We are satisfied that the applicants represent a good mix
and will result in a very positive addition to the visitor
experience. On the basis of the information at the
interviews, we do not see it as necessary to proceed with
auditions at this time but reserve the right to do so at a
future date.

"The experiences gained during the 2007 season will allow
the council [ to] review, with the licenced buskers, the
overall operation of the scheme for future years. We are
now proceeding to offer licences to those who applied and
will meet again with all 17 in advance of the 2007 season
and agree operational arrangements. I am very confident
that the overall scheme will work particularly well."

Mr Dollard also revealed that the council had made progress
in relation to court proceedings on evicting unlicensed
traders and buskers at the site.

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