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December 08, 2006

Talks For Healing Police Divide Started Today

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 12/08/06 Talks For Healing Policing Divide Start Today
BB 12/08/06 Police Warn Kelly Of Death Threat
BN 12/08/06 Three Quizzed In Relation To Bomb Finds
IN 12/08/06 Fulton Trial Insight Into LVF Violence & Crime
IN 12/08/06 Family Links To Notorious Loyalist Killers
BB 12/08/06 Go Ahead Given For McFarlane Kidnap Trial
UT 12/08/06 DUP To Get Free Vote On Gay Rights
IN 12/08/06 Opin: Fulton Jail Term Well Deserved
BT 12/08/06 Opin: Tough Decisions- How Best To Run Ulster
RT 12/08/06 Taoiseach Welcomes Catholic Bishops' Input
BT 12/08/06 More Droughts As Summers Get Drier & Drier
BB 12/08/06 Martin Sheen's Tribute To NI Journalist
BT 12/08/06 Playing Abe Lincoln Not A Tall Order For Liam
BT 12/08/06 Waiter Who Helped A Penniless Gabriel Byrne
MA 12/08/06 Bras: Big Business At Castlebar’s Bella Lusso


Talks For Healing Policing Divide

The DUP and Sinn Fein are to attempt to resolve their
differences over policing through a new Stormont committee.

The policing and justice subcommittee, which also involves
the Ulster Unionists and SDLP, is meeting for the first

It is one of six groups designed to forge a devolution

The committee is working against the clock to overcome the
deadlock on policing before the dissolution of the assembly
at the end of January.

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

Sinn Fein is refusing to hold a special ard fheis (party
conference) on policing until the DUP agrees a date for the
transfer of policing powers for the assembly.

The party also wants agreement on a new policing and
justice department and has concerns about the proposed role
for MI5.

The DUP has firmly resisted giving a date for the transfer
of policing powers.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood described the stand-off between the
two parties as a "sham fight".

He claimed substantive policing powers were already
devolved and hoped progress could be made quickly.

DUP opposition

Meanwhile, UK Unionist leader Robert McCartney addressed a
public meeting in Portadown on Thursday night called to
harness opposition from within the DUP to the St Andrews

About 80 people gathered in Carleton Street Orange Hall to
hear Mr McCartney claim the DUP was guilty of political

"I cannot convey to you how sick to the pit of my stomach I
feel each time I realise the magnitude of that betrayal and
the fact they will actually use that betrayal to squeeze
votes out of the unionist community," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/08 07:46:25 GMT


Police Warn Kelly Of Death Threat

The police have warned Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly that
dissident republicans plan to attack him in the near

Mr Kelly showed reporters an official warning he had
received before heading into the first meeting of the
Stormont sub-group on policing and justice.

Sinn Fein has said its members would "take precautions to
minimise risks".

Republican sources say threats to senior party members have
come from disaffected IRA members who left the organisation
in recent months.

Speaking on BBC Newsline's i-Generation webcast for young
people last month, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said
threats to the Sinn Fein leadership from dissident
republicans were "very real".

Sir Hugh said the dissidents were "determined to wreck
everything that has been achieved in Northern Ireland".

"The Sinn Fein leadership say their perception is the
threat against them has increased - I don't think they're
wrong," he said.

"Because of where the leadership wants to take their
organisation, which is down a political and an entirely
proper route towards a debate on the future of the island
of Ireland, there are people who don't want that to happen.

"They'd far rather do what they've done in the past, which
is violence."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/08 09:58:36 GMT


Three Quizzed In Relation To Bomb Finds

08/12/2006 - 10:13:17

Police arrested three men today for questioning about
terrorist activity by dissident republicans opposed to the
peace process in the North.

They were detained in Strabane, Co Tyrone, where three
homes were also searched.

The arrests followed the discovery earlier this week of
explosive devices near a pub four miles outside the town on
the main road to Derry, and at a house near Newtownstewart,
Co Tyrone.

Police said the three men were being quizzed by detectives
at Antrim.


Fulton Trial -Chilling Insights Into LVF Violence & Crime

By Staff Reporter

The conviction of Jim Fulton for a litany of paramilitary
offences has given a chilling insight into a campaign of
violence and crime and waged by a band of LVF members in
the mid-Ulster area in the 1990s

THE son of a Co Armagh woman murdered in a pipe-bomb attack
on her home has welcomed the conviction of LVF leader Jim
Fulton for his role in the attack.

Fulton has been told that he will serve a life sentence for
a catalogue of offences including his admission to
undercover police officers of his involvement in the 1999
murder of Portadown grandmother Elizabeth O’Neill.

The 38-year-old – a brother of former LVF leader Mark
‘Swinger’ Fulton who was found dead in his prison cell in
2002 – could also face two further life terms on charges of
conspiring to murder Sinn Fein office workers in Newry and
another man.

Instead of reading his 226-page judgment in full at Belfast
Crown Court yesterday Mr Justice Hart went through the
indictment, telling Fulton he was guilty of 48 charges but
acquitting him of 14 others.

He was convicted of aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs
O’Neill, two counts of conspiring to murder, seven of
attempted murder, nine explosive charges, 12 woundings and
attempted woundings, and seven firearm offences – including
possessing the gun which hitman Clifford McKeown used to
murder Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick at the
height of the Drumcree dispute in 1996.

The charge list also included one attempted robbery, one of
perverting the course of justice, two false imprisonments,
two hijackings,

two drug-dealing offences, being a member of the LVF and
directing its activities.

Among the judge’s acquittals were one charge of attempted
murder, two attempted woundings, two explosive charges, one
firearms offence, two drug-dealing offences, three
robberies, two false imprisonments and an attempted

Mr Justice Hart acquitted Fulton’s co-accused Muriel Gibson
(56) of involvement in the murder of Catholic council
worker Adrian Lamph but convicted her of impeding the
arrest and prosecution of his killers.

Gibson, with an address at Clos Trevithick in Cornwall, was
also found guilty of withholding information about a
shooting, two charges of possessing firearms, two of having
explosives and LVF membership. She was acquitted on three
explosives charges.

The convictions come after both Fulton and Gibson confessed
to undercover surveillance police about their activities
with the LVF between 1991 and 1999.

Their trial, the longest in Northern Ireland’s legal
history, had run from September last year until June.

They will be sentenced in January but Fulton was told that
he would receive a life term.

Fulton, from Queen’s Walk, Portadown, is the second person
to be jailed for involvement in the murder of Mrs O’Neill
who was married to a Catholic.

She died when she picked up a pipe bomb which had been
thrown at her house in the loyalist Corcrain estate in June

Fulton confessed to the undercover police that although he
was not present he had planned how attacks would be carried
out, instructing that one man throw a brick through a
window and another throw a bomb through the hole.

Mrs O’Neill’s son Martin last night said his family were
happy with the conviction.

“That was the guy who gave the go-ahead for the attack
which killed my mother to take place,” he said.

Mr O’Neill also said the family would not lose hope that
the other men involved would be pursued.

“There are men out there who have never been charged or
brought to justice,” he said.

“I have two wee children, Reese (9) and Sophie (4). Our
mother never got to know them because of these cowards.

“They didn’t get anything out of [killing her]. I don’t
know what excuse they could have.”

Among Fulton’s litany of other convictions are four
attempted murders in July 1998 when a blast bomb was thrown
at security forces during the Drumcree stand-off, wounding
four officers and leaving three unable to return to duty.

On the transcript Fulton can be heard describing the
weapons as “just like grenades... that’s the ones we were
throwing at the peelers at Drumcree”, and that he threw one
so hard it “very nearly took my shoulder out”.

There were also so-called punishment attacks on three men
who had fallen foul of the loyalist paramilitaries, a gun
attack on the home of a retired prison officer and the
hijacking of a Post Office van which was then loaded with a
hoax bomb and the driver ordered to take it to police lines
at Shillingtons Bridge in Portadown.

Initially the Crown had contended that Gibson had “pre-
knowledge” of the murder of 29-year-old Adrian Lamph,
gunned down in Portadown on April 21 1998 but Mr Justice
Hart convicted her instead of impeding the arrest and
prosecution of Mr Lamph’s killers and of possessing the gun
which killed him.

He said although she had no “prior knowledge” of what was
to happen, “she did everything she could to ensure that all
evidence would be destroyed or removed” and confessed to
the police about taking the “still hot” gun away.


Family Links To Notorious Loyalist Killers

By Claire Simpson

JIM FULTON was one of the north’s leading loyalists who
came to public prominence in 2001 when he was arrested for
the murder of grandmother Elizabeth O’Neill.

He has since been implicated in some of the most horrific
sectarian murders in Northern Ireland, and was questioned
by police about the 1999 killing of Catholic solicitor
Rosemary Nelson.

The 38-year-old was convicted of 48 offences yesterday
including hijackings, drug dealing and possession of the
gun which killed Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick at
the height of the Drumcree dispute in 1996.

Nationalist politicians ex-pressed disbelief when Fulton,
who was awaiting trial for 64 serious offences, had his
bail conditions relaxed to allow him to attend a July 12
parade in 2003.

The senior LVF member was an associate of a number of high-
profile loyalists including the group’s murdered leader
Billy Wright.

His brother Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton is thought to have
coordinated the attack on Rosemary Nelson.

Mark Fulton took over as leader of the loyalist
paramilitary group after Wright was shot dead in the Maze
prison by the INLA.

He was also linked to up to a dozen sectarian murders
including the killing of Bellaghy GAA club chairman Sean
Brown and 19-year-old Denis Carville who was shot by the
UVF in 1990 as he sat with his girlfriend in a car at
Oxford Island nature reserve near Lurgan.

The 42-year-old father-of-two was found dead in his cell at
Maghaberry Prison in 2002 while awaiting trial accused of
conspiracy to murder.

He is believed to have taken his own life.

His cousin Gary Fulton has also been linked to the LVF.

He also served time in the Maze prison between 1993 and
1997 on charges of armed robbery.


Go Ahead Given For Kidnap Trial

The Dublin High Court has given the go ahead for the trial
of Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane in connection with kidnapping
supermarket executive Don Tidey.

Mr Justice John Quirke gave his decision in a reserved
judgment on a judicial review granted to McFarlane to
challenge his trial going ahead.

McFarlane from north Belfast has been on bail since 1998
accused of falsely imprisoning Mr Tidey in 1983.

McFarlane was one of 38 IRA prisoners who escaped from the
Maze jail in 1983.

He was later caught in Amsterdam and extradited to Northern

He was released on parole from the Maze in 1997.

McFarlane was arrested by gardai in 1998 and charged with
the unlawful possession of a firearm and falsely
imprisoning supermarket chief executive Don Tidy near
Ballinamore, County Leitrim in 1983.

However, his trial collapsed after gardai lost items
including a milk carton, a plastic container and a cooking
pot - all of which, it was claimed, had his fingerprints on

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed that decision
and in March the Supreme Court ruled that the former IRA
member should face a retrial.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/08 11:49:54 GMT


DUP To Get Free Vote On Gay Rights

DUP Assembly members will make their own judgment on how
they will vote during a controversial debate at Stormont
next week on gay rights, a senior party member has said.

By:Press Association

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster defended the
Assembly`s decision to debate a motion next Monday by Lagan
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and East Antrim Assembly member
George Dawson condemning plans to implement equality
regulations for lesbian, gay and bisexual couples in
Northern Ireland in January ahead of the rest of the UK.

Critics believe the regulations could criminalise business
owners with strong Christian beliefs by making it an
offence to refuse services like hotel or bed and breakfast
accommodation on the grounds of sexual orientation.

But at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission`s
annual conference in Belfast, Rita Wild of the Lesbian
Advocacy Services Initiative said it was a disgrace many
Assembly members were planning to debate the Equality Act
(Sexual Orientation) regulations without having read them.

During a panel discussion involving politicians, Mrs Foster
replied: "I think it is right there should be a debate.

"I do not think it is an issue which should not be debated.

"It is an issue which a number of church leaders decided to
come to us about.

"I will put my hand up. I have not yet read the regulations
but I have given Rita a commitment that I will look at them
ahead of Monday`s debate.

"I have to say I am concerned in relation to the
regulations. To me initially there seems to be a clash of
rights between those who are Bible belief Christians and
those who are gay and lesbian. It is a classic case of a
clash of rights.

"But I hope that there is a very good and a very open
debate in the Assembly. What I do not want to see is people
voting a certain way because their party votes in a certain
way. I do not believe that will be the case in my party."

Concerns were expressed during the conference by Sinn
Fein`s Caitriona Ruane and Alliance Party leader David Ford
that next Monday`s debate could whip up tensions.

Ms Ruane told the conference: "I am not saying there should
not be a debate.

"It is the way the motion is formed that I am critical of.
I think it is framed in a way that is gay bashing.

"I also do not accept this is about a clash of rights.
Christians, Muslims do not have a right to discriminate.
Nobody has a right to discriminate."

The South Down MLA said the legislation being introduced in
Northern Ireland was catching up with the rights enjoyed by
lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender individuals in the
Irish Republic under the Equal Status Act.

Alliance leader David Ford said while he had not yet fully
studied the regulations, he had concerns about the tone of
Monday`s debate and in particular about language used
already in the Assembly by one of those proposing it.

The South Antrim MLA said: "I have no problems with people
expressing their personal beliefs. I have concerns that
Monday`s debate will end up being divisive because there
will be a total lack of respect among a number of

Ulster Unionist human rights spokesperson Dermot Nesbitt
revealed having studied the regulations, he sympathised
with the concerns of Christians.

The South Down MLA said the legislation could pose real
difficulties for a Christian adoption agency faced with a
request by a male couple to adopt or for care homes.

"The question is: does this intrude on the right of those
that are Christian? Do they impose that right on them?" he

Mr Nesbitt also attacked the way Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain handled the consultation, noting people in
England and Wales had three months between March to May to
reflect on what was being proposed.

In Northern Ireland, he noted the consultation was during
August and September, with one of the months being during
the summer holidays.

"Northern Ireland with a much lesser and later consultation
is being told this will come into law on January 1 - take
it as read," the former Stormont Environment Minister said.

"There is not a parity of esteem with the rest of the UK."

SDLP human rights spokesperson Patricia Lewsley said she
would be voting against the motion but was not against the
debate at all.

"I do believe there is a responsibility for politicians to
set an example," she said.

"For me, Monday is a bit of deja vu. I have been through
this sort of thing before on Lisburn Council around civic


Opin: Fulton Jail Term Well Deserved

The fact that a figure as sinister and dangerous as Jim
Fulton is behind bars will be regarded with a widespread
sense of relief.

However, there will also be anger that this vicious and
cold-blooded killer, along with his violent cohorts, was
able to carry out a prolonged campaign of terror,
motivated, in the main, by sectarian hatred.

Fulton was jailed for life yesterday after being found
guilty of murdering Elizabeth O’Neill, who died after a
pipe bomb was thrown through the window of her Portadown
home in June 1999.

This grandmother, who had carried the device from her home
in a bid to protect her family, died an appalling death.

Fulton planned this attack, which an earlier court heard
was aimed at people perceived to be in a mixed marriage.

Mrs O’Neill was a Protestant and her husband a Catholic,
which was deemed unacceptable by Fulton and his bitter
comrades and so this blameless woman lost her life.

In all, Fulton was convicted of 48 charges, including seven
attempted murders, possession of the gun used to kill
Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick, two offences of
drug dealing, false imprisonment, hijackings and membership
of the LVF.

No-one reading the litany of offences committed by this man
could be left in any doubt about the threat he poses and
the misery he has caused.

However, questions remain about the issue of collusion
between the LVF and security forces.

Another LVF member convicted of Mrs O’Neill’s manslaughter
by an earlier court was a Special Branch informer.

Jim Fulton’s brother, LVF leader Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, was
linked to the murders of Bellaghy GAA official Sean Brown
and Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson, and many others.

The truth behind so many terrible crimes has yet to emerge.

However, the conviction of Jim Fulton is a significant step
and the courts must impose a tariff which reflects the
suffering inflicted by this malign individual.


Opin: Why Any Future Executive Faces Tough Decisions About How Best To Run Ulster

[Published: Friday 8, December 2006 - 09:17]
By By Eric Waugh

Did you know that all our ills are to be blamed on direct
rule, that far away fields look green and that once
devolution is back, all our troubles will be over? But that
is what they are saying.

Our direct rule ministers are birds of passage indeed, with
little knowledge in depth of this disputed part of the
United Kingdom. They come and go, the egos of the less
notable briefly massaged by a ministerial post they
otherwise would never have had; and the more able working
their passage for a few months, on the way to higher
things, knowing that Stormont for them will soon be

But it is a bit much to blame them for all the ills in the
land, from water charges and higher rates to lost jobs and
closing schools. To do so is utter nonsense. By what
exercise in mental gymnastics do these people convince
themselves that, with the Assembly back, all problems will

One reason we now face a brutal collision with higher
rates, water charges and closing schools is that the
Executive and the Assembly, when in office, brazenly funked
facing these problems - because they knew each of them
would involve taking unpopular decisions. The sewerage
system in parts of this territory is a disgrace.

We have known that for years. Symbolically, in 1966, the
first outrage of the sectarian "war" was the blowing up of
a water main in south Antrim by loyalist terrorists.

But political crisis was an excuse to do nothing; and the
money that would have paid for the improvements was spent
on the Army, the police and making good the wanton
destruction of the IRA.

On schools, demographers have warned for decades that the
slowing of the increase in the birthrate would mean there
would be many surplus school places in the new century. So
it has been. But the incredibly wasteful - and socially
self-denying - schools system was left to march onwards
almost as if nothing had changed.

Only now is the obvious but revolutionary notion of state
and religious schools sharing expensive facilities to be
promoted systematically; but all that is heard is grumbling
at the temerity of direct rule ministers who are ordaining

Their critics inhabit a dream world. If an Executive takes
office next year, it will face some very fraught decisions.
Northern Ireland is no longer the automatic poor relation
of the rest of the United Kingdom. Its unemployment has
fallen below the UK average. Already, two years ago, its
unemployment was lower than that in London, the West
Midlands, the North-East and Scotland. So the Treasury is
already applying a sharper yardstick to Stormont finance.

Running Northern Ireland, by the end of the next financial
year, will be a £16bn-a-year business.

This will represent a budget increase of 50% in the space
of a decade, largesse provided by a public expenditure
level now nearly 30% ahead of the UK average.

Put bluntly, we are no longer the poorest; but we are still
being cosseted as if we were.

The current Treasury subsidy is running at more than £5bn a
year, a sum which, among other things, helps make up the
deficit on local services not being met by the antiquated
rating system. Revaluation is changing that - with the
coarseness of a meat cleaver. This is an unavoidable
operation, though capital value is a doubtful basis for it;
and the mean and deliberate withholding of a cap at the
upper end of the property ladder only replaces an old
anomaly with a new one.

Meantime, the Secretary of State claims to be going to war
on excessive bureaucracy: "We must only have as much
administration and other overhead costs as are absolutely
essential". Time will tell. A territory with a population
smaller than an English city does not require 11 separate
departments of government, each with a full panoply of
permanent secretary, minister and back-up staff. The
spectacle last time was - and again would be - ridiculous.

The old Stormont, fashionably derided, but progenitor of
much sound administration, made do with six. Of course, we
know why we have 11. It is a matter of Buggins' turn,
except that no one has to wait: everyone gets a job at
once. Jobs for the boys and girls. But are they all
necessary? Of course not!

With this machinery of built-in waste, the new
administration, if and when it arrives, will start off with
a baleful ball and chain of extravagance attached.

Hain's professed conversion to strict economy will be taken
seriously when he starts urging that we should have a
machine designed to fit the job, not the other way round.

© Belfast Telegraph


Taoiseach Welcomes Catholic Bishops' Input

08 December 2006 11:40

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said it is not a foregone
conclusion that the age of consent will be reduced to 16.

He was speaking Drogheda after the Catholic bishops
criticised the recommendation from a Joint Oireachtas
Committee report on Child Protection.

Mr Ahern said the Catholic hierarchy had been right to
raise the issue of morality. He said the Cabinet had yet to
consider the report and would be taking the bishops view
into account.

The proposal to lower the age of consent was drawn up in
the wake of constitutional problems over laws on statutory

The bishops say they believe that the plan is wrong and say
they are amazed that politicians and public opinion makers
had 'shied away from confronting the basic demands of

They said that the move sent out the wrong message to
children and their parents, and that should be resisted by
any mature society.

According to the bishops, children needed to be protected
not only from irresponsible adults but also from
themselves, until they reached the age of maturity,
currently considered to be 18.

On RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr
Willie Walsh, appealed for a serious discussion on the


Prepare For More Droughts As Summers Get Drier And Drier

[Published: Friday 8, December 2006 - 10:33]
By By Sam McBride

Drought will become a major problem in Northern Ireland
because of changing weather patterns, a leading scientist
has warned.

Ulster could face the prospect of wetter winters with
increased flooding, and drier summers with acute water
shortages, if current climactic trends continue.

Climate change expert Dr John Sweeney believes the Water
Service must start to plan for the possibility of water
shortages by building more reservoirs to trap winter

Dr Sweeney, who will today address a climate change
conference in Ballymena, said serious summer droughts could
be the norm in Ulster in 30 years.

"Considerable investment will be required if Northern
Ireland is to avoid serious shortfalls in its water
supply," the Maynooth academic said.

"Most research, including my own, suggests a reduction in
summer rainfall, particularly in the eastern half of
Northern Ireland, possibly a reduction of between 20-40%.

"This will be offset with increased rainfall during winter,
especially in the western part of Northern Ireland - we
project a rise of about 10%.

"The seasons will be more marked and the droughts will
result in reduced river levels and less soil moisture.

"The changes are a consequence of global climate change,
which is driven by human factors. The Republic of Ireland
is re-doing its flood calculations and the authorities in
Northern Ireland also need to think about the future."

Ulster social partnership Concordia organised the
conference. Its chairman, Seamus McAleavey, said the
conference would help senior policy-makers to tackle
climate change.

He said: "Climate change isn't going to go away - it's
here, it's getting more serious, and Northern Ireland will
lose out both economically and socially if we don't decide
now what we're going to do to tackle it."

The conference at Ballymena's ECOS Centre will be addressed
via video link by environmentalist George Monbiot.

© Belfast Telegraph


Martin Sheen's Tribute To NI Journalist

Hollywood actor-turned student Martin Sheen has paid
tribute to a young Northern Ireland journalist who died in
a car crash earlier this week.

The film and TV star - who starred in the hit US series The
West Wing - remembered Donna Ferguson who was a fellow
student at Galway University.

Donna, from Belleek, died in a collision involving her car,
a van and a lorry close to where she lived on Tuesday. Her
funeral took place in her home town on Friday.

On the day of the accident, the 24-year-old had been on her
way to work at a radio station in Omagh during a four-week
study break from NUIG, where she was studying for a post-
graduate qualification in journalism.

Speaking at a special university film screening of his
latest movie Bobby, Sheen said he wanted to share with them
a story of a young lady he had met during his time there.

Martin Sheen paid tribute to fellow student Donna Ferguson

He recalled how she had started the magazine and had wanted
to feature him on the front cover.

He said Donna had successfully tracked him down and got the
scoop she wanted for the magazine's first issue.

After his tribute, Sheen asked the audience to observe a
moment's silence in her memory and also in memory of
another student who had died in the recent past.

He is expected to finish his studies at Galway University
before Christmas and is due to return to the US.

Sheen has played President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing
since 1999. His big screen roles have included Apocalypse
Now and Gandhi.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/08 12:30:56 GMT


Playing Abe Lincoln Won't Be A Tall Order For Our Liam

[Published: Thursday 7, December 2006 - 11:18]
By By Nevin Farrell

Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson is preparing himself for
his forthcoming role as assassinated American president
Abraham Lincoln.

Neeson (54) will play 'The Great Emancipator' who was
credited with ending slavery, in the Steven Spielberg film,
Lincoln, which is expected to begin filming next year.

Recently Neeson toured the New York Historical Society's
exhibit New York Divided: Slavery And The Civil War and
also attended a lecture by The Gettysburg Gospel author
Gabor Boritt, according to the New York Daily News.

Shooting of the film has been delayed. It had originally
been expected in 2005.

When Neeson travelled home to Co Antrim two summers ago
locals believed the 6ft 4ins tall star had slimmed down to
assist in playing the role of the tall and thin American
Civil War president.

Neeson was hand-picked by movie mogul Steven Spielberg to
play Lincoln. He is around the same age as Lincoln who was
assassinated aged 56 in 1865. In 2005 Neeson toured
historic sites devoted to Lincoln in the US including the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the Lincoln-Herndon
Law Offices as he brushed up ahead of the role.

Also, last year Neeson said it was an "incredible honour"
to be asked to play President Lincoln in the forthcoming

Neeson said he hopes the film, which is expected to be
dominated by the slavery issue which helped spark the
American Civil War, has a direct impact on people's lives.

He said: "Before Schindler's List, I wouldn't have believed
movies had a lot of power for social change. But having
seen what happened with Schindler's List, and touring the
world with it, it really made me realise the power of

"Knowing how powerful movies can be, we have to be
responsible for what we put out there, and ask ourselves
why we are telling this story."

Meanwhile, at the weekend, Neeson attended an event in
America in honour of Spielberg.

© Belfast Telegraph


The Belfast Chinese Waiter Who Helped A Penniless Gabriel Byrne

[Published: Friday 8, December 2006 - 09:27]
By By Eddie McIlwaine

Film star Gabriel Byrne, who will be presenting an award at
the Prince's Trust 30th anniversary Celebrate Success gala
in City Hall tonight will be wondering once again if the
Chinese waiter who fed him left overs from his kitchen one
night in Belfast is still around.

"I'll never forget him," recalls Byrne, who will soon be
appearing in a Second World War movie called Leningrad. "I
was 16, penniless and hungry, gazing into his restaurant
and all that food.

"He came outside and handed me a piled plate of rice and
vegetables. A meal has never tasted better before or since.
It was my kind of manna from heaven. And I didn't thank him
properly as I gulped the food down. I've thought a lot
about that waiter down the years. People aren't usually as
thoughtful as that."

Young folk at the dinner, which is in recognition of young
people who have achieved success against incredible odds,
will be regaled by Byrne with stories from his teen years.

Now 55, he will explain to the gathering that he had just
completed a marathon hike from Donegal through Londonderry
to Belfast on the night of the unexpected tuck-in.

And he had spent his last few shillings going to the
pictures to get out of the cold.

Gabriel ended up being befriended by the police and
spending the night in a police cell at Donegall Pass and
drinking tea and eating currant buns.

"I had walked and walked - that's the way to find yourself
and think about life when you're just 16," he says.

The event will also have Northern Ireland football manager
Lawrie Sanchez as a guest and will be hosted by actor Joe
McGann and Christine Bleakley.

The awards celebrate the achievements of disadvantaged
young people who have changed their lives and had a
positive impact on the community.

The new Byrne film Leningrad has him playing a journalist
in an emotional love drama at the height of the fighting in
the war.

© Belfast Telegraph


Bras Are Big Business At Castlebar’s Bella Lusso

By Toni Bourke

Small garments are proving to be big business for a
Castlebar-based entrepreneur.

Angela Ferrara has revolutionised the underwear industry,
and brought a lot of happiness to larger busted ladies in
the process. Last night (Thursday) saw the official opening
of Angela’s new shop in Castlebar. Such is the uniqueness
of Angela’s business idea, that it’s the only one of its
kind in Ireland.

Angela Ferrara hit the Irish television screens earlier
this year with her novel business concept, Bella Lusso, on
RTÉ’s entrepreneur show The Fund. And last week she was
again the focus of Irish viewers when she featured on

Since appearing on The Fund she has grown her bra business,
culminating in last night’s opening of Bella Lusso, beside
Beverly Hills off New Antrim Street in Castlebar.

Angela explained to The Mayo Advertiser earlier this week
how the concept was born. “It started when I was pregnant
with my son. I got pregnant at the beginning of October and
in the middle of November I woke up one day and literally I
had ballooned. None of my bras fitted me.

“I was meeting a friend of mine down in Cafe Rua for lunch
and I couldn’t figure out what to wear because they [her
breasts] were just all over the place. I walked in and she
just said ‘oh my God the state of you!’

“This was only a month after I got pregnant. I hadn’t had
any pregnancy symptoms at all and I had only found out a
week before that I was pregnant.

“I went into a lingerie shop and was measured and they told
me I was a 44D so I bought three maternity bras that didn’t
have underwire. I wore them for about a week but they
weren’t comfortable. I felt I was still popping out.

“So I went to another couple of lingerie shops and was
measured in each of them and sold different bras and at the
end of it I was measured in eight shops and told eight
different sizes.

“I went to all the major shops in Dublin and it was the
last straw. I was driving home and I got as far as Mother
Hubbards when I had to take the bra off. I thought there
has to be a better way. - if you were carrying around 14
pound breasts you’d think the same.”

And Bella Lusso was born. From then on, as her pregnancy
progressed, Angela spent her time researching her new idea
from talking to friends, looking into manufacturers that
catered for the bigger cup sizes and checking out the
internet for sizing charts. But they all seemed to be based
on one measuring technique that came up with wrong sizes.

Perfect Fit

bra tape

But when Angela stumbled across a woman in the UK who had
come up with an invention called the bra tape, Angela’s
Perfect Fit bra tape idea started to grow. Although this
woman’s invention was flawed, Angela worked with her to
develop the Perfect Fit bra tape based on a colour coded
measuring technique which is very easy to use.

With bra tape in hand, Angela now had to find pretty bras
suitable for bigger sizes.

Now five months pregnant and attending lingerie shows,
Angela finally found out the real reason why lingerie shops
were not stocking bras for bigger boobs. One stockist
pulled her aside and revealed an industry secret: “It’s as
easy to sell someone a 44D as it is for them to get the
right size and stock all the bigger sizes,” he explained to
Angela who currently stocks 66 different sizes.

Well, obviously Ms Ferrara wasn’t too impressed with this
and even less so when men couldn’t understand why this was
a problem. So she broke it down into ‘man speak’ and
explained it was the same as trying to fit a 34 inch waist,
34 legged male into 32 inch waist/ 36 leg jeans. That’s the
male equivalent the best way Angela could best explain it.


A series of seminars revealed to Angela that many women
measured bigger than a JJ cup, but the bras were almost
impossible to come by. At these seminars Angela explained
exactly how a bra should fit: The underwire in at the
sternum, no overflow, the back shouldn’t be riding up and
women shouldn’t have to adjust it from putting it on in the
morning to taking it off at night.

“Women put up with it because they don’t realise there’s a
different way. I’m educating women to stop thinking she is
a 36B cup because a B cup is acceptable when she is
probably a D cup, which isn’t enormous. Its the same as
going into Dunnes and getting a pair of size 12 trousers
and then going into Top Shop and getting a 12 and Marks and
Spencers and getting a 12. It’s not the same. If you
measure a 34G you might be a 34FF in one style and a 34GG
in another, but you’re a 34G or GG or thereabouts.
Manufactures and styles differ slightly,” explains Angela.

How to order

To develop her business Angela set up the mail order number
which is 1850 big bra (1850 244 272). Alternatively
customers can order bras from the website on

RTE’s The Fund happened at a most opportune time for
Angela. She had planned on launching her business before
Christmas when a friend told her about the programme. That
pushed her dates back but the publicity received couldn’t
have been bought.

When she reached the final three, the launch was really put
on hold, as the live final wasn’t due to air until April.
But she went ahead and launched the website in time for
Valentine’s Day and officially launched after The Fund was
shown. “The programme started to air in the end of February
so there were six weeks of free advertisements,” explained
Angela. “It was brilliant.”

Angela now finds that most of her international business is
generated through the website, for obvious reasons, while
Irish business is through the shop, firstly with the show
room in Balla and hopefully this will transfer to the new
Castlebar shop.


With customers from as far afield as South Korea, Pakistan
and America, Angela has begun thinking of developing Bella
Lusso into a franchise. “A lot of people contacted us
saying they have nothing like this in America and they
would love to open a branch. So the franchise is something
that is on the cards for next year. I told my bank manager
that I had six enquiries from America for franchising. But
the thing is to keep it steady. I will start working on the
manual first. But even if I’m not ready to launch the first
international shop until 2007/2008 that’s fine. The hardest
part has been setting up the shop here in Castlebar.”

And with the perfect fit parties still on the go, where
Angela visits a house, measures the ladies and allows them
to fit on some bras, with an option of buying them of
course, she is certainly kept busy. But for now she is
concentrating on the new Bella Lusso Castlebar shop, with
ambitions of conquering the world not too far down the

So call in, you might be surprised at what the Perfect Fit
measuring tape reads, I certainly was, and enjoy a cup of
coffee and a girlie chat in comfortable and relaxed

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