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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
January 27, 2007
Policing: Time is Right Says SF Leaders
News About Ireland & The Irish
IN 01/27/07 Policing: The Time Is Right Say SF Leaders
UT 01/27/07 Sinn Fein Perpare For Ard Fheis
IT 01/27/07 RSF: Ex-Prisoners 'May Run' In North Elections
UT 01/27/07 McCord Urges SF To Say Yes To Policing
BT 01/27/07 McCord: Campaign Not About RUC But Justice
UT 01/27/07 McAleese Condemns 'Despicable' Collusion
IN 01/27/07 Dr Clarke Responds To O’Loan Report
IN 01/27/07 Ombudsman ‘Needs Access’ To MI5
BT 01/27/07 Collusion: The Home Truths…
IN 01/27/07 Writer Urges Other Ways To Uncover Truth
BT 01/27/07 Devolution Or Dublin, DUP Is Told
BT 01/27/07 Dublin Helps Pay For Derry Airport Extension
BT 01/27/07 Asset Recovery Costs Us A Fortune
IN 01/27/07 Framed Man Criticises UDR Victims’ Fund
IN 01/26/07 Opin: Ard Fheis ‘Yes’ Vital For Peace
BT 01/27/07 Opin: Time To Grow Up, DUP
IN 01/27/07 Opin: Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be
IN 01/27/07 Opin: Fulton’s Cohorts Must Be Pursued
IN 01/27/07 Holy Cross Doubles Despite Closure Threat
IN 01/27/07 Alex Maskey’s Father Dies
BT 01/27/07 Tributes As SDLP Man McTeague Dies At 82
KY 01/27/07 Mary M. McGarr, 88, Of Fort Wright – RIP
BT 01/24/07 Celtic Drama: Ballad Of An Irish Playboy
BT 01/27/07 Ulster People Go For Bottle To Handle Stress
BT 01/27/07 Mary Black Headlines West Belfast Festival Bill
CY 01/27/07 How Irish Invented Gambling Slang
Policing: The Time Is Right Say SF Leaders
By William Graham
As republicans converge on Dublin for Sinn Fein’s ard fheis
on policing, political correspondent William Graham takes
the political temperature at a critical juncture in the
THE “moment has ar-rived” in Irish politics, as Sinn Fein
leaders cross their fingers behind their political backs
and ask republican heartlands north and south to agree a
new way forward on policing.
Upwards of 1,000 party delegates will have the right to
vote at tomorrow’s extraordinary ard fheis in Dublin’s RDS
conference hall, with the motion on signing up to policing
structures needing to be endorsed by 50 per cent (plus one)
– although the pragmatists hope for at least 75 per cent.
This will be the mother of all debates inside republicanism
but the political ground has been well prepared by the
republican leadership from Cork to Derry.
Most delegates will have been given clear instructions on
how to vote from Sinn Fein branches across the country but
in a limited number of cases members will be trust-ed with
a free vote after listening to all the arguments from the
It is not yet known how branches will vote but the
calculation is that a majority will give the go-ahead to
the leadership on the policing issue.
Barry McElduff, a long-time Sinn Fein activist from the
republican heartland of west Tyrone, said he would be among
those prepared to follow the party leadership.
As someone who would be considered something of a
traditionalist inside Sinn Fein, he said it would be a very
emotional debate for “dyed-in-the-wool Irish republicans’’
and certainly “a big ask’’.
Derry assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin also said a new
political landscape stretched out ahead.
“The mood is as you would predict when momentous historic
issues are being decided. People are obviously very, very
They are politically conscious of their responsibility as
republicans to create a different society,’’ he said.
“They are addressing an issue that has been correctly
described as a neuralgic issue for republicans and yet they
have a vision of a different society and a new beginning
and a determination to play their part.
“So the debate this weekend will be genuine in republicans
in a public fashion reflecting all the different dynamics
of this process of change and taking responsibility for
leadership and creating the momentum for change.
“We remain confident that the moment has arrived. It is the
right thing to do at the right time and this extraordinary
ard fheis is the opportunity to take that step into the
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams’s message to delegates this
weekend is that his party is committed to Irish unity and
supports civic policing through a police service which is
representative of the community it serves, free from
partisan control and democratically accountable.
He said this week’s Police Ombudsman report about the
protection of UVF killers in north Belfast is further
evidence of collusion and subversion by sinister elements.
“This has to be stopped. Sinn Fein is about delivering
fair, impartial and effective delivery of the rule of
Mr Adams said he believed a new beginning to policing
promised in the Good Friday Agreement would be an enormous
“I believe that we have now reached the point of taking the
“If it succeeds it will ad-vance the struggle for equality
and the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland.’’
So, tomorrow in Dublin rep-ublicans face what will be a
long, emotional and perhaps sometimes angry debate.
Mr Adams, Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness,
and the party’s policing spokesman, Gerry Kelly, will stand
in front of delegates to put their case for signing up to a
new type of policing in the north.
They will of course ask the party to stay united and hope
there will be no serious split.
The last such split was on a bleak November afternoon in
1986 at the Mansion House as Sinn Fein abandoned its long-
standing abstentionist policy on taking seats in the Dail.
That ard fheis prompted a protest and a walk-out from
supporters of Ruairi O Brad-aigh who went on to form
Republican Sinn Fein.
At that time Mr Adams shrewdly tried to smooth the
differences by sticking out his hand, which Mr O Bradaigh
was forced to shake.
Nevertheless, there has not been nor will there be any
reconciliation between the strategies followed by Mr O
Bradaigh and Mr Adams.
This weekend he may have to argue his case again with some
considerable strength and shake many hands.
But as Danny Morrison commented after that 1986 ard fheis,
this weekend’s conference vote may well turn out to be an
“historical psychological breakthrough – into the
Sinn Fein Prepare For Ard Fheis
Saturday 27/01/2007 11:11:18
Final preparations are under way before Sinn Fein's Dublin
conference to debate the contentious policing issue.
Two thousand delegates will attend the Sinn Fein special
ard fheis (conference) tomorrow in the RDS in Dublin.
Senior officials believe the party`s president Gerry Adams
will get a clear majority for the party to sign up to the
new policing arrangements in Northern Ireland despite some
unease in parts of the country.
A number of meetings have been held over the past week
between republicans and senior party figures to probe the
opposition to the policing issue.
Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) said they would protest outside
the RDS in Dublin as thousands of Sinn Fein members vote on
whether to take the unprecedented step to back the Police
Service of Northern Ireland.
RSF formed after the divisive Sinn Fein ard fheis in 1986
which saw members agree to abandon the policy of
abstentionism and take seats as elected representatives in
Dublin and later the Stormont Assembly.
Meanwhile, in her first comments on Police Ombudsman Nuala
O`Loan`s report into the Royal Ulster Constabulary`s
Special Branch, Irish president Mary McAleese said the
evidence of collusion between police officers and loyalist
paramilitaries pointed to the "most despicable" behaviour.
But the president insisted that the investigation`s
findings should encourage Sinn Fein to support policing at
its conference on Sunday.
Speaking last night at an official engagement at a new
centre in London to help Irish emigrants in Britain, Mrs
McAleese described Ms O`Loan`s probe into how Special
Branch officers protected a loyalist mass killer in north
Belfast as "a deeply disturbing report, a damning report".
"It evidenced the most despicable of behaviour," she said.
Asked if a further inquiry into the affair was now
necessary, Mrs McAleese said: "I think that it certainly,
in the taoiseach`s words, does merit follow-up and
reassurance, not just to the victims, but to all
She went on to send a message to Sinn Fein, saying: "I
would have thought that in fact that the publication of the
O`Loan report should be a tremendous encouragement to those
who want to support policing and the rule of law and who
are going to promote that argument before the Sinn Fein ard
"This report should give them the very right kind of
information and encouragement to do that."
RSF: Ex-Prisoners 'May Run' In North Elections
Sat, Jan 27, 2007
Republicans opposed to the Police Force in Northern Ireland
may run ex-prisoners as candidates in this March's
elections to restore government.
Republican Sinn Féin is calling on Sinn Fein members to
throw out a motion from the party leadership that they
accept the province's police service.
A special conference, or ard fheis, is being held in Dublin
tomorrow to rubber stamp the historic shift which would see
republicans joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland
and sitting on public scrutiny bodies.
Republican Sinn Féin spokesman Ruairi Óg Ó Brádaigh said:
"It is a British police force as far as we are concerned,
it doesn't matter if Gerry Adams is in uniform, it is who
controls it and pays it and motivates it," he said.
Sinn Féin president Mr Adams wants to secure the landmark
vote ahead of anticipated restored government in March and
devolved powers over policing and justice by 2008.
Accepting the police was a condition which Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist Party had demanded before sharing
Republican Sinn Féin which represents the dissident
Continuity IRA is set against the policing concession which
it claimed would endorse British rule in Ireland. "We have
had 100 years of British police forces here and there were
plenty of Catholics and it didn't make them not a British
force," Mr Ó Brádaigh added.
"This is all cosmetic to give it a veneer of
© 2007 ireland.com
McCord Urges SF To Say Yes To Policing
Saturday 27/01/2007 13:12:24
A man whose son was murdered after loyalists colluded with
police in Northern Ireland has urged Sinn Fein to accept
Raymond McCord was speaking on the eve of a crunch party
conference of republicans in Dublin to decide whether to
back the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
His son, also Raymond, was killed by a North Belfast Ulster
Volunteer Force gang which had been infiltrated by an
Mr McCord said: "I believe what happened in my son`s case
was in the past. I believe that the chief constable Sir
Hugh Orde is a different chief constable, who won`t
tolerate the collusion of corrupt police officers.
"I am not tainting the whole of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary; a small group of corrupt police officers
ruined its good name," he said.
Police Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan issued a critical report on
the RUC Special Branch actions and found that the gunmen in
the pay of the security forces had been responsible for up
to 15 murders.
Mr McCord`s son, 22, a former RAF man, was beaten to death
and dumped in a quarry north of Belfast in 1997.
The Ombudsman said that one of the informants, known to be
north Belfast paramilitary Mark Haddock, had received more
than £80,000 from his shadowy masters during a reign of
terror in the north of the city.
Mr McCord is pressing all political parties to come
together to back justice for his son`s killers and he said
Sir Hugh had assured him that no stone would be left
"That was enough to convince me that there has been change,
there is a lot more to be done, but there has been a lot of
change since 1997, and these are the people I have been
fighting against for nine years.
"I believe both unionists and nationalists can work
together, it`s imperative that there is trust so that these
things never happen again."
Sinn Fein`s extraordinary meeting, an ard fheis, promises
to be an historic moment for the party, marking a final
break with the armed campaign.
The leadership, headed by President Gerry Adams, hope to
have enough votes from across Ireland to agree to taking
their seats on police scrutiny bodies and encouraging young
nationalists to join the force.
Changes to the old RUC include an extensive redundancy
package, recruitment of more Catholics and a string of
extra monitoring bodies including the Policing Board and
Mrs O`Loan said officers had refused to co-operate with her
investigation, launched after a complaint from Mr McCord.
Critics, including retired officers, have challenged her to
provide evidence which would sustain a court case to back
her damaging allegations.
Democratic Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson said there
needed to be additional resources devoted to catching the
"We believe that the focus should now switch very clearly
on to the criminal investigation by the Historical
Enquiries Team and that every effort should be made to
arrest and convict the UVF members responsible," he said.
"That`s what really matters here, and in all the hype
surrounding the Ombudsman`s report and the attempt by some
political parties to denigrate the RUC because of the
actions of a few, this has diverted attention from the real
He added that the HET had established a special team to
probe matters raised in the Ombudsman`s report and said
this should not be allowed to divert money or manpower from
The HET was established to address thousands of unsolved
murders committed during the troubles in Northern Ireland
My Campaign 'Is Not About The RUC But About Justice'
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:30]
By David Gordon
Campaigning father Raymond McCord last night stressed that
he was not denigrating the RUC in his campaign to expose
the truth about his son's murderers.
He also said he did not want the issues raised in this
week's Police Ombudsman's report to become a "political
"It's not about politics, it's about justice," he said.
"My family's priority is to see the killers put behind
bars. I am not denigrating the RUC or the many brave men
and women who served in it.
"Its good name has been damaged by a small number of rogue
Special Branch officers who acted outside the law.
"It has been claimed that some RUC widows have been upset
by what I have been saying.
"That is certainly not my intention, and if it is the case,
I apologise. "
© Belfast Telegraph
McAleese Condemns 'Despicable' Collusion
Saturday 27/01/2007 11:39:33
The evidence of collusion between Northern Ireland police
officers and loyalist paramilitaries pointed to the most
despicable of behaviour, the Irish president has said.
Mary McAleese made her first comments on Police Ombudsman
Nuala O`Loan`s report into the Royal Ulster Constabulary`s
Special Branch at an official engagement in London.
But the president insisted that the investigation`s
findings should encourage Sinn Fein to support policing at
its special conference on the issue on Sunday.
The president described O`Loan`s probe into how Special
Branch officers protected a loyalist mass killer in north
Belfast as: "A deeply disturbing report, a damning report.
"It evidenced the most despicable of behaviour."
Asked if a further inquiry into the affair was now
necessary, Mrs McAleese said: "I think that it certainly,
in the taoiseach`s words, does merit follow-up and
reassurance, not just to the victims, but to all
She went on to send a message to Sinn Fein, saying: "I
would have thought that in fact that the publication of the
O`Loan report should be a tremendous encouragement to those
who want to support policing and the rule of law and who
are going to promote that argument before the Sinn Fein ard
"This report should give them the very right kind of
information and encouragement to do that."
Mrs McAleese was speaking at a new centre to help Irish
emigrants in Britain.
Her remarks come after the ombudsman`s disclosure that
Special Branch handlers paid and shielded an Ulster
Volunteer Force boss responsible for up to 15 murders.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to fend off demands
for the resignation of former RUC figurehead Sir Ronnie
Flanagan from his post as the head of Her Majesty`s
Inspectorate of Constabulary in the wake of the report.
Mark Durkan, the nationalist SDLP leader, used
parliamentary privilege to name three senior officers who
Mrs O`Loan claims refused to assist her probe.
The continuing controversy over the ombudsman`s
investigation comes ahead of a special party conference on
policing being held by Sinn Fein in Dublin on Sunday.
Party president Gerry Adams is expected to win the support
of the majority of the 2,000 delegates, but hardline
republicans opposed to the historic shift in Sinn Fein
policy are to stage a protest at the conference venue.
Dr Clarke Responds To O’Loan Report
By William Scholes Religious Affairs Correspondent
THE Moderator of the Presbyterian Church has responded to
this week’s police ombudsman report by appealing against
“the temptation to rake over the ashes of the past”.
Dr David Clarke warned that the desire to look back
“contains the potential to drag us back into a
Events since Monday’s publication of Police Ombudsman Nuala
O’Loan’s statement detailing collusion between Special
Branch and north Belfast loyalists and Thursday’s victims
commissioner report had, he said, “confirmed my fears”.
“Many of the comments have been divisive, showing on one
hand an unwillingness by some to concede that wrongdoing
has taken place and, on the other, a desire to smear the
reputations of all who served in the RUC and UDR,” he said.
“We can only hope and pray that these events do not
jeopardise the progress on which we all ought to be
focusing – namely, the establishment of a power-sharing
He said the events of the past could only be dealt with in
the context of political stability.
“A successful outcome to the Sinn Fein ard fheis and a
commitment by the DUP to powersharing would create a
context in which trust could be built, enabling us in due
course to examine the deeds of the past with sufficient
self-confidence to admit the wrongs done on all sides,” he
Ombudsman ‘Needs Access’ To MI5
By William Scholes
CALLS are increasing for the Police Ombudsman to be given
the power to investigate MI5 after the SDLP claimed that
the intelligence agency had paid the loyalist killer
East Derry assembly member John Dallat said the ombudsman’s
office had already interviewed police officers in
connection with the background to at least 17 murders in
He said the murders being investigated included the
Greysteel and Castlerock killings in Co Derry.
“I know that retired police officers at a senior level have
been interviewed and have cooperated with the ombudsman’s
investigators,” he said.
“I believe from my own knowledge that the killer Torrens
Knight was an agent run by MI5 and not the RUC as claimed
“Indeed, the PSNI took the unusual step last year of
publishing a statement denying that he was paid by police.
“If this is true then he must have been paid by MI5.
“This is why it is essential that the ombudsman must have
access to all MI5 files to find out the horrible truth that
led up to the IRA ceasefire.”
Knight was one of the UDA gunmen who murdered eight
Protestants and Catholics in the Rising Sun bar in
Greysteel on October 30 1993.
Mr Dallat said “someone needs to establish why Knight was
spotted on several occasions in army barracks in Derry and
“It is my belief that he was an MI5 agent and that needs to
come out before final closure is possible,” he said.
A special team has been set up to re-investigate murders
that Nuala O’Loan said had been committed by UVF men who
were police informers.
The Historical Enquiries Team of the PSNI has established
the special team, which will re-examine the deaths of 10
people named in the ombudsman’s report and other complex
“We are reinvestigating the cases – the actual murder
incidents,” team chief Dave Commander said.
“Our aim is to try and uncover evidential opportunities to
get those responsible for these murders before a court.”
Any evidence of collusion involving police officers will be
given to the Police Ombudsman, he said.
The Home Truths ...
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 12:27]
By Alf McCreary
"The community must be grateful to the Police Ombudsman for
doing that most difficult of jobs - helping us to look at
something we find it difficult to reflect on."
These words, from the Church of Ireland cleric the Rev Earl
Storey, neatly underlines the sense of dismay at the
findings of Nuala O'Loan's report, which outlined a grisly
tale of collusion between a minority of the RUC and the UVF
paramilitaries in north Belfast during the Troubles.
His comments are important for another reason, too. Here is
a Protestant cleric telling it the way it is, in difficult
circumstances - but, then, Earl Storey is no ordinary
clergyman. Some years ago, he wrote a brave and a
definitive book about the Orange Order, suggesting how it
might improve its image. He is now the director of the
Church's anti-sectarian Hard Gospel Project.
Storey makes the point that "the alleged actions of certain
police officers acting in collusion with paramilitaries is
shocking". So it is, but it is important that these words
are coming from a senior Protestant clergyman. His comments
are also backed up by another statement from an even more
senior Church of Ireland cleric, Bishop Michael Jackson,
who says that Mrs O'Loan has done an important service to
Irish society, North and South, by publishing her findings.
He states that "her references to collusion cannot but
cause alarm to everyone who today seeks the confident
assurance that the rule of law € holds sway in policing".
These comments, like those of Mr Storey, would have the
unquestioned support of all nationalist people. However,
they would have a mixed reception among Protestants.
The majority, one hopes, would admit that the findings are
incontrovertible, but others would dismiss the Ombudsman's
report as just another attack on the RUC, and by
implication an attack on the Protestant community itself.
One woman said to me this week, in effect: "Why can't they
leave the RUC alone?" You may not agree with of her
sentiments, but they were real. She implied that people in
her community could not bear to hear the latest details
about a rogue Special Branch within the RUC, even if it was
regrettably true, and that the bravery of so many officers
in that force was being overlooked because of the
malpractice of a small minority.
This is why so few unionists were prepared to come forward
to try and defend, not the indefensible behaviour of the
RUC Special Branch, but the reputation of all those in the
RUC who tried hard to provide good policing for everybody.
The harsh truth is that the RUC was locked in a dirty,
vicious war on both sides, with some of the worst
paramilitaries imaginable, and there is a bitter irony in
watching a Sinn Fein leader ask for Sir Ronnie Flanagan,
the former Chief Constable, to be sacked.
God only knows what he and his republican friends were up
to in the darkest days of the Troubles.
There is much hand-wringing and moralising about the
inexcusable wrongs of a minority of the RUC. But this
debate requires more balance and perspective. It is
important that senior Protestant clerics like Michael
Jackson and Earl Storey, both Fermanagh men who know about
border and inter-community situations, have the courage to
confront people with some unpalatable home truths, while
underlining at the same time, how much Mrs O'Loan's
revelations have saddened the majority of decent officers
in the old RUC and the PSNI, as well as the community at
It is one thing for a senior Catholic cleric to speak his
mind about policing, and Father Dan Whyte, whose honesty
and courage I have long admired, did so this week. He
warned that the Ombudsman's investigation has heightened
wider suspicions about the policing of loyalist groupings.
However, there is not much mileage for Church of Ireland
clerics in drawing attention to the shortcomings of a
minority in a courageous police force which most
Protestants (and many Catholics) rightly regarded as the
last bulwark holding out against the worst of
Perhaps the best that can be said of the past few days is
that the Ombudsman's report has provided an opportunity for
the release of some more of the poison from the system in
Northern Ireland, and has allowed many people to confront
painful home truths and to try to move on.
It may be that other Protestant clergymen will speak their
minds in public about these matters, but in the meantime
Bishop Jackson and Mr Storey have shown courage in being
the first to put their heads above the parapet.
© Belfast Telegraph
Writer Urges Other Ways To Uncover Truth About Killings
By Seamus McKinney
WRITER Don Mullan whose book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday was a
major part of the campaign to establish the Saville Inquiry
has called for other ways of uncovering the truth about
Troubles atrocities to be examined.
Mr Mullan’s book, published 10 years ago, was used
extensively by the Irish government to dismantle the
original 1972 Widgery Tribunal findings into Bloody Sunday.
Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, a collection of first-hand
accounts recorded in the hours and days after the killings,
is seen by many as a major element in forcing the British
government to establish the Saville Inquiry in 1998.
But Mr Mullan, who was present in Derry’s Bogside as a 15-
year-old on Bloody Sunday, says the time has now come to
look at methods of uncovering truth and achieving justice
other than through public inquiries.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the 35th annual
Bloody Sunday commemoration march in Derry tomorrow.
The march, which starts in Derry’s Creggan at 2.30am, will
retrace the steps of the original demonstration, ending
with a rally at Free Derry Corner.
Mr Mullan said he was greatly concerned that the cost (in
excess of £150 million) and duration of the Saville Inquiry
was now being used by British and Irish governments to
prevent further inquiries.
“Bloody Sunday is now being used as an excuse.
“It worries me that the Tribunals Act of 1922 still remains
the only way you can compel witnesses to attend and uncover
documents,” he said.
“We must find some way of getting to the truth without it
being so costly.”
He said it should be a matter of great concern that the
Bloody Sunday families have yet to find closure to their
The final Saville Inquiry report is not expected before the
end of this year or early 2008.
:: A Bloody Sunday commemorative event featuring Raymond
McCord, Paul McIlwaine and others, scheduled for later
today, has been postponed because of illness. The event,
`Were the victims on all sides expendable in the dirty
war?’ will now take place on February 15.
Devolution Or Dublin, DUP Is Told
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:16]
By Noel McAdam
Sinn Fein last night held up the prospect of 'Plan B' -
increased involvement of the Irish government in Northern
Ireland - if there is no devolution deal.
Gerry Adams told the DUP: "You will have to explain to
unionists the increased role for Dublin if there is no
The Sinn Fein president told the Belfast Telegraph: "It is
not an ultimatum - just a statement of fact."
On the eve of his party's crucial ard fheis verdict
tomorrow on supporting policing, there were increasing
indications the republican leadership will carry the day -
and force the political spotlight onto the DUP.
The Rev Ian Paisley's party will point out the ard fheis
motion is conditional on the establishment of a power-
sharing Stormont Executive - and a date for the transfer of
The British and Irish governments are set to hail the ard
fheis verdict and attempt to switch the focus on the DUP to
indicate its willingness to agree to enter government with
London and Dublin will be assisted by the publication on
Tuesday of the latest Independent Monitoring Commission
report which is expected to be positive.
Secretary of State Peter Hain has insisted the March 26
date for a new executive, almost three weeks after the
March 7 elections, cannot be changed.
Without a deal, the St Andrews Agreement consolidates so-
called 'Plan B', an enhanced role for the Irish in the
Mr Adams said the DUP would have to explain to unionists
why there will not be accountability via a local Assembly.
"They will have to explain why fly-in, fly-out British
ministers will be imposing water charges and cuts and why,
instead of an Assembly, we will have new partnership
arrangements with the British and Irish governments."
Mr Adams said the DUP should be satisfied by the motion to
be debated tomorrow, since it had helped craft it.
© Belfast Telegraph
Dublin To Help Pay For £19m Airport Extension
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:31]
By Clare Weir
The British and Irish Governments are to equally contribute
to a £14m funding package for City of Derry Airport.
The money will go towards runway safety works, leading to
the eventual demolition of 19 houses in the Donneybrewer
townland - part of the 'safety zone' which borders the
One home has already been tumbled.
The Secretary of State, Peter Hain MP announced yesterday
that agreement had been reached on details of the joint
grant as part of this week's cross-border National
Development Plan, outlined by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.
The huge cash bonanza is being handed to the airport owner,
Derry City Council, which will also make up the remaining
25% of the total £19m cost.
Mr Hain said that the grant will help reduce the burden on
He added that the co-operation between the two will benefit
people and businesses on both sides of the border.
"Good progress has been made towards fulfilling the pre-
conditions and we are pleased to put the final touches to a
joint offer of grant aid to Derry City Council," continued
"There has been significant passenger growth at the airport
over the last year and the grant project should help to
improve business prospects further by enabling full use to
be made of existing runway facilities.
"However, if the council is to minimise the future draw on
ratepayer funds, it will be important to reform the way the
airport is controlled and managed. I look forward to the
outcome of the council's review of governance options."
In March 2005, both governments declared their support in
principle for the airport project subject to Derry City
Council meeting a number of conditions. Amongst these was a
requirement that the council should change the governance
arrangements of the airport so that it can operate on a
more effective commercial basis.
News of the package comes a week after the European
Commissioner launched a probe into the City Of Derry
Airport deal with Ryanair, details of which Derry City
Council unsuccessfully tried to keep secret following a
Belfast Telegraph Freedom of Information request.
© Belfast Telegraph
Asset Recovery Costs Us A Fortune
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:51]
By Mark Hookham
A flagship agency set up to seize money from Ulster's
underworld cost almost three times as much to run as it
recovered, the Telegraph can reveal.
New figures released by the government throw light on the
performance of the Belfast office of the Asset Recovery
The Government announced earlier this month that the ARA
would merge with the new Serious Organised Crime Agency
(SOCA). This prompted the UUP and SDLP to ask if the ARA
has been sacrificed to get Sinn Fein to accept policing.
But, new figures revealed by Home Office minister Vernon
Coaker show the ARA cost much more than it recovered.
The ARA in Northern Ireland cost a total of £8.3m in
2005/06. This included £2.1m for staff, £4.3m in receivers'
and other specialists' fees, £1.5m in overheads and other
costs of £300,000.
This compared to £3m of assets recovered - which means the
net cost of the agency to the taxpayer last year was £5.2m.
ARA director, Jane Earl - who will leave in April - has
already admitted she is "disappointed" that cash is not
being ploughed back into policing and community projects,
The ARA and police were given power to act even when there
is not enough evidence for a criminal prosecution, which
demands a higher standard of proof.
But critics claimed underworld figures were holding up the
legal attempts to seize millions of pounds by claiming
breaches of their human rights.
Cases expected to take three years have dragged on much
longer, despite the agency growing to boast 200 lawyers,
accountants and investigators.
The ARA has, however, insisted it had not lost a case on
human rights grounds, but simply faced delay in the receipt
of funds from assets such as helicopters and insurance
DUP MP Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry), who obtained
the figures, said the relatively low recovery figure did
not mean the agency had failed.
On Monday he will table further questions to the government
to establish whether SOCA will deploy the same level of
resources to recover ill-gotten gains as the ARA has.
He said: "I do not think anyone should be surprised. It was
never going to, say, cost £5m and bring in £10m.
"The fact is that £3m was a substantial amount in that 12-
"It is better to look at these things over a six- to eight-
year timespan. We should be putting £10m to £12m in and
getting at least that, if not more, back."
In a written answer, Mr Coaker insisted the merger will
"not take away from our efforts in tackling organised crime
in Northern Ireland through the recovery of assets".
"No decisions have yet been taken about the total numbers
of SOCA staff to be based in Belfast following the merger,
which is not likely to take place before April 2008...
However, there will be no diminution in the resources
available for asset recovery work," he added.
© Belfast Telegraph
Framed Man Criticises UDR Victims’ Fund
By Seamus McKinney
A DERRY man who spent 19 years on the run after being
framed for murder but has still received no compensation
more than seven years after the charges were dropped has
criticised plans for a fund for families of UDR soldiers
killed during the Troubles.
Gerard Kelly, one of the group who became known as the
Derry Four, said the proposal by outgoing victims’
commissioner Bertha McDougall showed an appalling case of
double standards in the state’s approach to victims.
As a teenager in 1979 Mr Kelly – along with Gerry McGowan,
Stephen Crumlish and Michael Toner – was charged with the
murder of a soldier near Derry’s Fountain estate.
The four said they were beaten and mentally tortured until
they signed false confessions.
After seven weeks on remand the four youths were given
bail. When their trial started in October 1980 they were
advised to jump bail or face up to 30 years in prison.
Nineteen years later, after they had built up new lives in
the Republic, all charges against them were dropped.
Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan is investigating their case.
Mr Kelly said his “blood boiled” when Ms McDougall
that “further consideration” be given to a fund for UDR
“What is the difference between me and the UDR and B
Specials? I am a victim too,” he said.
“We are all victims. We [four] are still living with this.”
Opin: Ard Fheis ‘Yes’ Vital For Peace
Tomorrow’s special ard fheis in Dublin will be a pivotal
event for republicans as Sinn Fein delegates gather to
agree a way forward on policing.
All the indications are that the party is poised to take a
hugely significant step towards endorsing policing
structures in the north.
A rejection by delegates would represent an enormous
setback for the party leadership, which has thrown its full
weight and authority behind this move.
The journey towards this vote has been long and difficult
but this was an inevitable step as the party moved from its
revolutionary past to a future role in a power-sharing
Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly a major change for Sinn
Fein and it is hardly surprising that the party has
experienced some opposition.
Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s report on collusion was
released at a crucial stage in the debate and it will be
interesting to see what impact this has on the final
For some, the devastating investigation will simply
reinforce their belief that the police can never be
However, such a view ignores the reforms which have taken
place to make the police more accountable.
Indeed, the collusion report has demonstrated the
importance of the ombudsman’s office and underlined the
fact that the actions of police officers are subject to the
most rigorous scrutiny.
There is no such thing as a perfect police force but the
changes which have taken place since Patten have
transformed policing in Northern Ireland and this process
of reform is continuing.
There will still be many challenges and difficulties ahead
but a positive outcome tomorrow will be a momentous step
which will bring the return of a power-sharing
Opin: Time To Grow Up, DUP
Wesley Holmes Belfast
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 12:36]
Well, you can't beat the DUP for succinctness.
Peter Robinson, of a critical article in the Irish News
some years ago: " Republican rag!"
Sammy Wilson, of loyalist paramilitaries intimidating RUC
personnel at the time of Anglo-Irish Agreement: "We can't
afford to be squeamish."
And his description of the RUC? "Boot boys."
Now we've Ian junior, on mature reflection, refining his
earlier remark about the O'Loan report from "fiction" to
mere "smoke". And they accuse the Government of spin?
These gentlemen are significant players in the putative
Government of Northern Ireland. God help us.
Decent men and women of all persuasions are alarmed at some
of the content of the O'Loan report. What we require of our
political representatives is sound political analysis, not
the supercilious piffle that we're being offered from their
I suspect they'll be surprised, come election day, that
ordinary people of all shades of political opinion are more
mature than they imagine them to be.
© Belfast Telegraph
Opin: Once Again Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be
By James Kelly
With Sinn Fein poised to deliver its ‘seismic decision’
within 24 hours, for or against, a new regime for policing
and the rule of law in the troubled six counties there is
no time left to clear up the wreckage lying all around
after Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s blockbuster report on
the appaling misdeeds of the Special Branch of the Royal
The astonishing timing of the revelations came like a clap
of thunder producing shocked denials of involvement from
former Northern Ireland secretaries of state, claiming that
the Special Branch was a policing matter separate from
cabinet affairs. Lord Maginnis (Unionist) foolishly tried
to rubbish the ombudsman’s allegations and soon found
himself at odds with the unionist top brass, clearly
impressed by the credibility of the charges of collusion
between the police handlers and the Mount Vernon murderers
The principal focus on the serial murderer Mark Haddock,
UVF drug dealer, brought a sickening exposure of the brutal
killing of Good Samaritan Sharon McKenna, the Catholic taxi
driver killed while cooking a meal for an elderly friend, a
Protestant man, just released from hospital. Haddock
confessed to his handler that he was one of the two killers
but the subsequent police interviews proved to be a “sham”.
Worse still his blood money was increased from £100 a week
to £160! Haddock, wanted by some of his angry drug-dealing
UVF thugs was last heard of when he was removed to the
Royal Victoria Hospital for an operation.
For fear of assassination he has since been provided with
day and night armed police protection. Meantime Prime
Minister Tony Blair, replying at Westminster to Mark
Durkan, the SDLP leader, said they deeply and bitterly
regretted any collusion and impropriety that had taken
place by anyone working for the Special Branch throughout
He claimed that as a result of changes made some years ago,
that could not happen anymore, adding: “It is precisely as
a result of additional scrutiny we now have that this has
been uncovered and laid bare”.
Mr Durkan said that anywhere else the revelations exposed
by Mrs O’Loan would be a “national scandal”.
What effect the exposure of this disgraceful chapter in the
history of law and order in the very sick counties will
have on the minds of the 2,000 delegates who are expected
at the Sinn Fein ard fheis tomorrow remains to be seen.
While the rest of the one-time unionist family were in
turmoil the DUP leader Ian Paisley has been remarkably
silent, clearly indicating that a critical moment in the
leadership of his confused and bewildered party and Free
Presbyterian Church, is looming up inexorably.
The aftershock and confusion left by the explosion of Mrs
O’Loan’s timebomb has left us unprepared for the sudden
onset of the long deferred endgame with the two leaders,
Adams and Paisley, poised tomorrow for what looks like a
leap in the political dark.
Is this the moment of truth at last after all the years of
fiddling and filibustering?
Once again fings ain’t what they used to be with Sinn Fein
meeting in above all places the Royal Dublin Showgrounds
and the GAA’s Croke Park about to change the posts for its
first ever international rugby encounter!
Opin: Fulton’s Cohorts Must Be Pursued
Vicious LVF killer Jim Fulton fully deserves the lengthy
sentence handed down at Belfast Crown Court yesterday.
The minimum 25-year tariff set by Mr Justice Hart reflects
the gravity of the crimes this man was involved in and
sends out a strong message to those continuing to engage in
Driven by sectarian hatred, Fulton embarked on a chilling
campaign of terror which destroyed lives and brought misery
and mayhem to the mid-Ulster area.
Among those unfortunate enough to come within his malign
orbit was 59-year-old grandmother Elizabeth O’Neill who
died after a pipe bomb was thrown at her home in Portadown
Fulton’s LVF group was a relatively small but deadly band
of twisted individuals who were responsible for a large
number of despicable acts.
Unfortunately, some of those involved in the murderous
attack on Mrs O’Neill and other crimes remain free.
It is essential the police continue their efforts to bring
these criminals to justice.
Holy Cross Enrolments Double Despite Closure Threat
By Simon Doyle Education Correspondent
A school under review as part of a planned shake-up of
Catholic education has seen its new enrolments almost
double in the past year.
The future of Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School in north
Belfast is being considered as part of the most far-
reaching review of primary education ever undertaken in the
The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) plans to
remove 20,000 empty desks, which it says will inevitably
mean that some primary and nursery schools will “cease to
Holy Cross, which attracted worldwide attention during a
violent loyalist protest in 2001, accepted 26 new P1 pupils
last year, having filled just 15 of its 70 P1 places in
each of the previous two years.
Public consultation meetings were held last year on the
future of the school, with an ambitious ‘three into one’
amalgamation with Holy Cross Boys’ and Mercy PS put forward
as a preferred option.
The plan has been put on hold pending examination of the
Bain report, which said proposals for reorganising schools
should demonstrate that options for sharing on a cross-
community basis have been considered.
“The school enrolment, for primary one, has increased over
the years since the trouble outside and the situation in
the area is calm and sup-portive,” the principal, Betty
“The school received an excellent inspection report last
year and children, parents and staff are working in a very
Inspectors praised the high priority given to children’s
development and said their behaviour was “exemplary”.
Alex Maskey’s Father Dies
By Staff Reporter
The father of Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey and
Belfast councillor Paul Maskey has died in hospital.
Alex Maskey snr died suddenly yesterday evening after a
He is survived by his wife Teresa and children Alex, Liam,
Frank, Paul, Marian, Patsy and Geraldine.
West Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Fra McCann said Mr
Maskey’s death was a blow to his family and the community.
“It’s a big big shock for the family,” Mr McCann said.
“They are a very close family and the father and mother are
a big part of that.
“Alex was a great man, big into sports.
“He wrote many articles in the local press and he was well
“It’s obviously a loss for the family and the wider
community. He was held in very high esteem.”
No funeral arrangements have yet been made.
Tributes As SDLP Man McTeague Dies At 82
[Published: Friday 26, January 2007 - 16:11]
Tributes were paid today following the death of a popular
SDLP councillor and war hero.
Tommy McTeague (82) died at his Glengormley home following
a suspected heart attack yesterday.
Mr McTeague had represented the SDLP on the Antrim Line
ward in Newtownabbey council between 1989 and 2005. For
many years he was the only nationalist on the council.
Mr McTeague was also a recognised war hero who served with
the RAF in Burma from 1941 to 1945.
However, he was also a target of loyalist paramilitaries.
In 1993 he was lucky to escape injury after the UDA left a
bomb under his car outside his home. He responded in
typically bullish fashion and challenged the bombers to be
"man enough to come out and face me".
He also had a great love of choral music and was regarded
as a talented singer.
Mr McTeague is survived by son John and daughter Marie.
© Belfast Telegraph
Mary M. McGarr, 88, Of Fort Wright, Formerly Of Ludlow,
Died Thursday At St. Elizabeth North Hospice, Covington.
She was an executive secretary retired from Procter &
Gamble, Cincinnati, and a member of Sts. Boniface and James
Church, Ludlow, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the
Kentucky Rovers Seniors Group, and the Notre Dame Academy
Alumni Association, Park Hills.
There are no immediate survivors.
Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at
Sts. Boniface and James Church, Ludlow. Visitation will be
from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ronald B. Jones Funeral Home,
Ludlow. Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery, Fort
Memorials are suggested to the Jack McGarr Endowment Fund,
c/o Bishop Brossart High School, 4 Grove St., Alexandria,
Ky. 41001; or Sts. Boniface and James Church, 304 Oak St.,
Ludlow, Ky. 41016.
Celtic Drama: Ballad Of An Irish Playboy
[Published: Thursday 25, January 2007 - 08:31]
A hundred years ago, 'The Playboy of the Western World'
opened to riotous scenes in Dublin. Today the tiny Aran
island that inspired the play has become a literary shrine.
By David McKittrick
It was a play which had not so much an opening as a
detonation, exactly a century ago, with many of those in
the seats of Dublin's Abbey theatre rising in fury against
It generated what are remembered in Ireland as the "Playboy
Riots" with the police called in to restore order and
heated debate on what should and should not be seen on the
Dublin stage. There was as much drama in the stalls as on
The leading actor William Fay reported, perhaps slightly
histrionically, that a stage-hand kept the audience at bay
only "by arming himself with a big axe, swearing by all the
saints in the calendar that he would chop the head off the
first lad who came over the footlights".
The production was denounced by, among others, Arthur
Griffith, a founding father of the modern Irish state, as
"a vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language we
have ever listened to from a public platform".
Ireland's national poet WB Yeats strode on to the stage to
defend it, lecturing the audience: "You have disgraced
yourself again - is this to be the recurring celebration of
the arrival of Irish genius?"
In the intervening years it went on to generate controversy
in the United States and even in China. In New York in the
1930s Irish-Americans pelted the cast with carrots, eggs
and, appropriately, potatoes. Yet over the course of a
century The Playboy of the Western World has shaken off its
original notoriety to join the canon of classic Irish and
The play is an extraordinary mixture of comedy and tragedy,
tenderness and violence, of brutal reality and preposterous
fantasy. It is still performed often in Ireland and
elsewhere, where the play itself is regarded as inseparable
from its tumultuous opening nights.
These caused its author, John Millington Synge, to write
defensively to the newspapers: "Although parts of it are,
or are meant to be, extravagant comedy, still a great deal
that is in it, and a great deal more that is behind it, is
perfectly serious, when looked at in a certain light."
The irony is that Synge, a middle-class Anglo-Irish
Protestant, saw the play as shedding an affectionate light
on the isolated existence of poverty-stricken Catholics in
the remote west of Ireland.
But his brand of realism did not find favour with those
whose vision of the Irish peasant was one of stoic peoples
living a hard life with dignity. Many took offence at a
work which included violence, lack of respect for the
Catholic church and a frank sexuality.
It was the sexuality which last year caused some upset in
China - although not quite on the scale of the "Playboy
Riots" - when a Mandarin-language version performed in
Beijing featured an actress wearing a particularly short
skirt. This gave rise to the notable tabloid headline, more
Joycean than Syngean, "Peking at your knickers".
The most celebrated of Synge's half-a-dozen dramatic works,
Playboy is the tale of Christy Mahon, a young man who
arrives in a remote County Mayo village and enlivens the
lives of the locals.
He enthralls them by relating how he has killed his
domineering father and gone on the run from the law. Far
from being appalled by this, the villagers are fascinated
and come to regard him as something of a hero.
Several local women set their caps at him and he becomes a
sought-after celebrity. Unexpectedly, however, his father
turns up - not dead, but only wounded, and the plot
Christy immediately goes down in the village's estimation,
but tries to restore his lethal reputation by once again
trying to kill his father. The villagers, thinking he has
this time succeeded, threaten to torture and lynch him, but
once again his father appears, and this time they go off
This bald recital of some of the facts of the plot does not
of course begin to capture the impact of the play which,
while featuring both violence and highly unconventional
morality, is also marked by excellent jokes and funny
Set entirely in the village pub, it includes characters
propping up the bar, a widow whose wiles include demands
for "a right-of-way, a mountainy ram and a load of dung at
Michaelmas" as well as an unseen but forbidding Catholic
But one of the play's outstanding features is the way Synge
rooted it in the far west of Ireland, building into it both
local folklore and the inherently poetic language of
Ireland's Atlantic coast.
Ironically, he had a deeply evangelical mother who urged
him to shun strong language and exaggeration, advice which
he ignored while also dropping Protestantism in favour of
atheism, not a welcome move in a family studded with
He studied Irish and Hebrew and knew he wanted to write. He
moved to Paris but was lost for a subject until he received
some life-changing advice from Yeats, who told him: "Give
up Paris. You will never create anything by reading Racine.
Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as if you were one of
the people themselves; express a life that has never found
Synge did exactly that, in a move which would define the
rest of his short life and leave a lasting mark on Irish
Over a period of years he spent many months on Inishmaan,
the largest of the Aran islands, a barren, windswept place
off the west coast offering ruggedly beautiful landscapes
and seascapes. He wrote of it, in the lilting cadences so
often found in his plays: "With this limestone Inishmaan I
am in love."
The island gave him enormous inspiration, its people
fascinating a man who had lived his life in cosmopolitan
Dublin and Paris. He wrote of them: "These people seemed to
be moved by strange archaic sympathies with the world.
"Their mood accorded itself with the wonderful fineness to
the suggestions of the day, and their ancient Gaelic seemed
so full of divine simplicity that I would have liked to
turn the prow to the west and row with them forever."
Today Inishmaan is the least visited of the Aran islands
but still attracts some travellers anxious to see the place
which inspired Synge so much. They can be seen, book in
hand, walking past the Padraic Flaherty's thatched pub,
where he would stop to have a drink.
They call at the recently restored "Synge's cottage," where
so many literary scholars stayed that it became known as
the 'The University' to which, he felt, had "a certain
Then they make a pilgrimage to "Synge's chair," a cairn of
stones by a 300ft cliff where he would sit gazing at the
Atlantic, making copious notes. The plays that came from
these cover different themes: one is a relentless dirge
depicting the effects on the island of deaths at sea
following the sinking of a local fishing boat.
But in each one Synge depicted the islanders with
respectful affection, capturing their humanity and their
harsh lifestyles. He also captured the cadences of their
everyday language, writing lines which still flow today.
He drew on Aran myth and legend, in particular noting, and
building into Playboy, one tale which captured the innate
local lack of support for the forces of law and order.
An old man told Synge the story of a Connaught man who had
killed his father in a crime of passion, then fled to the
island and threw himself to the mercy of the natives.
Synge recounted that the old man showed him a hole where
the fugitive had been hidden "and kept safe for weeks,
although the police came and searched for him, and he could
hear their boots grinding on the stones over his head".
Synge marvelled: "This impulse to protect the criminal is
universal in the west. If a man has killed his father and
is already sick and broken with remorse, they can see no
reason why he should be dragged away and killed by the
This was a phenomenon that was familiar enough but it was
rarely aired in polite society and was never going to go
down well with sections of the theatre-going Dublin public
when proclaimed from the Abbey stage.
Nor was it the only point to scandalise the objectors. In
an echo of the later Chinese controversy, the more
puritanical in the audience took particular exception to a
line about "a drift of females standing in their shifts".
This reference to petticoats was deemed unacceptable.
A related problem was that Playboy showed country-dwellers
as real people with faults and foibles, an image completely
at odds with the conventional depiction of rustic virtue
and rural dignity.
One critic stormed that the whole thing was "an
unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men and,
worse still, upon Irish peasant girlhood".
Synge did not take this well, railing against the petit-
bourgeoisie, saying: "The groggy patriot-publican general-
shop man who is married to the priest's half-sister and is
second-cousin once-removed of the dispensary doctor."
He died at the age of 37, leaving behind six Inishmaan-
inspired plays which he wrote within a few years in a great
burst of creativity. He is regularly counted among the
dozen greatest literary figures produced by Ireland. Today
he is remembered with affection, while his one-time critics
are mockingly dismissed.
And the Abbey theatre, scene of the drama which spilled
over from the stage to the stalls, still performs his
works, attracting enthusiastic audiences which no longer
have to be fended off by stagehands with axes.
© Belfast Telegraph
Ulster People Go For The Bottle To Handle Stress
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:53]
By Emily Moulton
Northern Ireland is full of more stressed out drinkers than
the rest of the UK, a new survey has revealed.
According to the Samaritans, stress is making Ulster people
more tired and irritable - and we're turning to drink
The internationally recognised telephone helpline charity
commissioned the survey, Samaritans Stressed Out, to gauge
the stress levels of the UK in the lead-up to their annual
Stress Down Day on February 1.
Of those questioned, almost a quarter of Ulster people
(24%) said they were stressed every single day, with 65%
saying they were more stressed than five years ago.
One of the ways to relieve stress was to turn to alcohol
(45%) and going to the pub or a bar was another way to de-
A staggering 82% said they felt irritable when stressed and
65% said stress disturbed their sleep.
However, when it came to appetite, the Northern Irish
stomach fared better than the Welsh, with only 24% saying
it had an effect, compared to almost a third (30%) of the
And while Ulster may be the most stressed out, it does not
mean we take the most sickies.
Only 2% said they took sick days because of stress compared
to 6% of Scots.
Money remains the biggest cause of stress for every region
of the UK ( 51%). However, Northern Ireland - unlike every
other region in the UK - stands alone in making work
equally as stressful at 51%. Next comes family at 49% -
almost making it a three- way tie with money and work.
This shows the value and at the same time how stressful the
responsibility of family life is to the Northern Irish - no
other region rated 'family' above 35%.
Apart from drinking or going to the pub, watching TV and
listening to music (47%), phoning or visiting a friend
(25%) or going to the doctor (6%) were other good way to
deal with stress. There is still one in five though (22%)
who decide to do nothing - they say that they "just get on
with it" .
Director of Service Support with Samaritans Joe Ferns said:
"Feeling stressed can be a vicious circle. Sometimes, the
more people feel stressed, the more they do things which
put them under greater pressure."
© Belfast Telegraph
Folk Legend Mary Black Headlines West Belfast Festival Bill
[Published: Saturday 27, January 2007 - 09:21]
By Matthew McCreary
Irish folk singer Mary Black will be headlining this year's
Feile An Phobail spring festival in west Belfast, it has
The 2007 Feile an Earraigh programme was launched
It features a wide range of traditional Irish arts and
culture acts, which will take place from February 8-11.
Ms Black will perform at Clonard Monastery on February 9,
supported by critically-acclaimed Scottish harpist Rachael
Hair and the Feile Women's Singing Group.
Other acts include Kathryn Tickell on the Northumbrian
smallpipes, who is recognised as one of the foremost pipers
in the world.
Belfast's ethnic minorities will also be providing a mini-
food fayre. There will also be a special Valentine's dance
in An Culturlann on Sunday, February 11.
Sean Paul O'Hare, Feile an Phobail Director, said: "Our
programme consistently offers a diverse range of activities
and we hope to again attract visitors and locals alike. If
you want to experience traditional arts and culture this is
definitely a festival worth a visit.
"Other events which will be taking place include tours and
walks, music and art workshops, numerous exhibitions and
there will be loads to keep the kids entertained," he
Tickets for the festival are available by calling 028 9028
4028 or visiting www.feilebelfast.com
© Belfast Telegraph
St. Brigid: Feast day of St. Brigid, 6 p.m. Sunday (Jan
28th), Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas, Houston, Texas.
At 7 p.m. Jill Carroll, associate director of the Boniuk
Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious
Tolerance, will lecture on "hospitality of the heart."
Brigid, a fifth-century Irish Celtic saint, founded a
monastery for nuns and monks based on equality.
St. Brigid, Or St. Bride Feastday – February 1st
St. Brigid was a native of Ireland, and has the honour to
share with St. Patrick the distinction of exercising the
spiritual patronage of that island. She was a daughter of
one of the princes of Ulster, and was born at Fochard, in
that province, soon after the first conversion of Ireland
to the Christian faith. As she grew up she became
remarkable for her piety, and having taken the monastic
vow, she was the first nun in Ireland, and has ever since
been reverenced by the Irish Romanists as the mother of
nunneries in that country. She built her first cell under a
large oak, which had perhaps been the site of pagan worship
in earlier times, and from whence it was named Kildara, or
the cell of the oak. Round this first Irish nunnery
eventually arose the city of Kildare. The date at which St.
Brigid founded her cell is said to have been about the
year 585. After having astonished the Catholic world by a
number of extraordinary miracles, which are duly chronicled
in her legends, she died, and was buried at Downpatrick,
the church of which boasted also of possessing the bodies
of the saints Patrick and Columba. Giraldus Cambrensis has
recorded how, in 1185, soon after the conquest of Ulster by
John de Courci, the bodies of the three saints were found,
lying side by side, in a triple vault, St. Patrick
occupying the place in the middle, and how they were all
three translated into the cathedral. This event appears to
have created a great sensation at the time, and was
commemorated in the following Latin distieh, which is
frequently quoted in the old monastic chronicles:
In burp Duno tumulo tumulantur in Imo Brigicla, Patricius,
atque Columba pins.'
For some cause or other Brigid was a popular saint in
England and Scotland, where she was better known by the
corrupted or abbreviated name of St. Bride, and under this
name a number of churches were dedicated to her. We need
only mention St. Bride's Church in Fleet-street, London.
Adjoining to St. Bride's Churchyard, Fleet-street, is an
ancient well dedicated to the saint, and commonly called
Bride's Well. A palace erected near by took the name of
Bridewell. This being given by Edward VI to the city of
London as a workhouse for the poor and a house of
correction, the name became associated in the popular mind
with houses having the same purpose in view. Hence it has
arisen that the pure and innocent Brigid—the first of
Irish nuns—is now inextricably connected in our ordinary
national parlance with a class of beings of the most
More info at:
How the Irish Invented American Gambling Slang into Irish
American Vernacular English.
The Sanas (Irish Etymology) of Faro, Poker and the Secret
Flash Words for the Brotherhood of American Gamblers.
By DANIEL CASSIDY 5/13/06
The Irish... gave American, indeed, very few new words;
perhaps speakeasy, shillelah and smithereens exhaust the
list." H.L. Mencken, 1937.
A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, corroborates the well-
known but puzzling fact that so few Irish words have been
absorbed into Standard English." Terence Patrick Dolan,
"There's A Sucker (Sách úr, fresh new "fat cat") Born Every
Minute," Mike McDonald, 1839 - 1907
The Irish language in America is a lost, living tongue,
hidden beneath quirky (corr-chaoí, odd-mannered, odd-
shaped) phonetic orthographic overcoats and mangled
American pronunciations. Irish words and phrases are
scattered all across American language, regional and class
dialects, colloquialism, slang, and specialized jargons
like gambling, in the same way Irish-Americans have been
scattered across the crossroads of North America for five
Borrowed Irish American Vernacular English to American
English Irish was transformed by English cultural
imperialism from the first literate vernacular of Europe in
the 5th century, into the underworld cant (caint, speech)
of thieves and "vagaboundes" in the 16th century, and then
into the countless number of anonymous Irish words and
phrases in American Standard English, vernacular, slang,
and popular speech today.
From the early 19th century to the mid-twentieth century,
Irish-Americans played a key role in the development of
professional gambling and casinos in the United States.
With a potent political base made up of millions of Irish
immigrants and their American-born children, in cities as
geographically scattered as New Orleans, Chicago, New York,
Boston, Hot Springs, Dallas, and San Francisco, Irish
Americans built powerful urban political machines fueled by
the huge cash flow generated by the gambling underworld.
There were sure-thing tricksters and professional gamblers
of all nationalities from the earliest days of the American
Republic. French, Scottish, English, and Creole gamblers
and gambling syndicates were augmented in the late 19th
century by waves of impoverished southern Italians and
Sicilians, as well as Jews from the shetls of Eastern
Europe and Russia. But from the early 1800s until the
1930s, Irish urban street gangs, and the political machines
that grew out of them, controlled the tiger's share of the
profits from illegal gambling in the United States.
Irish-American bigshots Price McGrath, Jimmy Fitzgerald,
and Pat Herne were the leading faro bankers in the wide
open city of New Orleans in the first decades of the 19th
century. When the political "fix" curdled in the "Big Easy"
in 1830, clans of sure thing tricksters fled up the
Mississippi River and scattered to a hundred towns and
cities. Price McGrath opened up a Faro "rug joint" in New
York City, at 5 West 24th street, with former heavyweight
boxing champion, John Morrissey, as a partner. The two men
couldn't have been more different: McGrath was a sporty
swell (sóúil, sóghamhail, comfortable, prosperous, rich)
and Morrisey a world-class slugger (slacaire, a mauler, a
bruiser), but they both spoke the same language. Witchita
Secret Flash Words of the Secret Brotherhood of Gamblers
In the 1840s, a former professional gambler, faro mechanic,
and card sharp, Jonathan Harrington Green, announced in the
press that he had become a born-again evangelical
Christian, whose new mission in life was exposing the scams
('s cam) and gimmicks (camóg, a crooked device, a trick)of
a vast, secret "brotherhood of gamblers," ruled by a
mysterious underground, hierarchy of "Grand Masters." Like
all successful con men, Jonathan Harrington Green was a
master of the ballyhoo (bailiú, [act of] gathering a crowd)
and took his slick (slíocach, cunning, sleek) spiel (speal,
sharp,cutting, satiric speech) on the road, adding some
pizzazz to his born-again baloney (béal ónna, pron. bail
owny, silly talk), with fancy card tricks and elaborate
demonstrations of ingenious cheating devices, for overflow
audiences of zealous Christian reformers and middle-class
In two best-selling autobiographical books, Green claimed
that this brotherhood of faro tricksters even communicated
in a secret language. The few examples Green gave of this
underworld lingo of "the Brethren" were, in fact, neither
"flash" nor "secret," but the American-English phonetic
spelling of fairly common Irish words.
In a chapter entitled "Flash Words of the Secret
Brotherhood of Gamblers," Green wrote: "The Grand Master
shall be fully invested with power to give out the
following catalogue of useful flash words. The six words of
quality are highly beneficial in conversation, and must, in
all cases, be used when one is present who is not known to
be a member. By this means can be found out strange
Brethren, who are ever ready for any sound so familiar to
their own ears." (Jonathan Harrington Green, The Secret
Band of Brothers, NY, 1841, pp. 107-113)
Below is a list of the Gambling Brotherhood's so-called
secret words, spelled first in Green's phonetic English and
then in Irish, with matching definitions. It is not
surprising that the Irish gambler's secret cant was as
Gaelic as the gamblers themselves.
Huska, good, bold, intrepid.
Oscar (pron. h-uscar),a champion or hero; a bold intrepid
hero. Oscartha (pron. h-uscarha),martial, heroic, strong,
Cady, a highway man.
Gadaí (pron. gady), a thief, a robber. Gadaí bóthair, a
Modh (pron. moh), mode of employment.
Caugh, quarrelsome, treacherous.
Cath (pron. cah), battle, fight, conflict. Cathaitheoir
(pron. cauhoir), a mischief-maker.
Cully, a pal, a confederate, a fellow thief.
Cullaidhe (pron. cully), companion, an associate, a
comrade, a partner. (Dineen, p. 279)
Gaugh: manner of speech
Guth (pron guh): voice, manner of speech.
Glim: A light.
Gealaim (pron. galim): I light or brighten.
Geister: An extra thief.
Gastaire: A tricky cunning fellow; a person with artifice,
In fact, Jonathan Green was no huska (oscar, hero) of
Christian rectitude, but a caugh (cath, pron. cah,
quarrelsome) geister (gastaire, a tricky cunning fellow; a
thief), whose new maugh (modh, pron. moh, profession)
involved a smooth gaugh (guth, pron, guh, manner of
speech). "Doc" Greene put the glim (gealim, I light) on his
former cullys (cullaidhe, pron. cully, companion,
associate, comrade[s]) and cronies (comh-roghna, pron. cuh-
rony, fellow- favorites, mutual-sweethearts), while keeping
it off of himself. Green's secret lexicon demonstrates the
early pervasive influence of the Irish language on the
argot of American gamblers,-- a fact as secret today as it
was in the 1840s.
The Irish-American Big "Shot"
Seód, séad, seád, pron. shot, a jewel; fig. often a chief,
a warrior, a powerful person, Dwelly, p. 808)
The Ard Rí (High-King) of Faro and professional gambling in
America after the Civil War was the head Dead Rabbit
(ráibéad, a hulking person, a big galoot) of the Five
Points, former World Heavyweight Boxing Champ, Congressman,
and Tammany Hall Big Shot, John Morrissey, who owned the
swank (somhaoineach, valuable, wealthy) gambling casino, 18
Barclay Street, near The New York Stock Exchange, where he
plucked only the fattest suckers: bankers, stock brokers,
and merchants. But the jewel in "Old Smoke" Morrissey's Big
Shot crown was Saratoga, in upstate New York, where he
founded the world-famous racetrack and gambling casino in
the early 1870s -- at the dawn of the Gilded Age. (6)
In the 1880s, Mike McDonald was King of Slab (Mud)Town's
gamblers and popularized the famous aphorism "there's a
sucker born every minute." McDonald reigned over Chicago's
faro dealers, grifters (grafadóir), and crooked gambling
joints, with the aid of ward heelers (éilitheoir, a
claimsman, a friendly petitioner) Silver Bill Riley and Big
Jim O'Leary, until the old geezer's (gaosach, gaosmhar,
pron. geesar, a wise person or "wiseguy") middle-aged wife
ran off to Europe with a handsome young priest. King Mike
converted to Protestantism, got divorced, and shacked up
with a showgirl half his age. The world-class big shot had
turned into a world-class sucker and became the proof of
his own axiom. Mike McDonald was succeeded by the master
grafter (grafadóir, grubber, scrounger, raker) and
legendary diminutive boss of Chicago's wide open First Ward
and its infamous Levee District, "Hinky Dink" Kenna, and
his hulking, dapper partner, "Bathhouse" John Coughlin.
Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John ruled over Chicago's
underworld for more than three decades with iron hands that
were always palms up.
From his bailiwick (baile aíoch, hospitable home, friendly
locale)on New York City's Bowery, Big Tim Sullivan, the
High-King of the Tammany Ward heelers, replaced "Old Smoke"
Morrissey as the "Big Shot" of New York's underworld from
the 1880s to the first decades of the 20th century. Whether
five-cent "Policy" (pá lae sámh, pron. paah lay seeh, easy
pay day) banks, floating crap games in the East Side
tenement districts, or uptown "rug joints" and snazzy Faro
palaces a short block (bealach, pron. balock, a path, a
road)from Wall Street, the Sullivan Machine controlled New
York City gambling. The teetotal Big Tim was a degenerate
gambler himself, losing vast amounts ofdough during his
The first decades of the 20th century saw the rise of New
York City's powerful Gopher (Comhbhá, pron. cofa, Alliance)
Gang and its leader Owney "the Killer" Madden. In the
decades leading up to Prohibition, Madden took a motley
crew of Hell's Kitchen Irish street gangs and transformed
them into a West Side alliance that became an international
underworld corporation. With the end of Prohibition and
the defeat of the Irish bootleg racketeers (racadóir, a
dealer, a seller, a sportive character) in The War Between
the Guineas and the Micks Madden "retired" and married
the postmaster's daughter in Hot Springs, Arkansas, once
controlled by the Flynn brother's southern-Irish political
machine. Owney "the Killer" became Owney "the Businessman"
and managed his considerable assets in bookmaking
operations, wire services, and racetracks, throughout the
Northeast and the South, until his death in "Bubbles" (Hot
Springs) in 1965.
In January, 1947, Benny Binion, an illiterate Irish-
American road gambler, policy wheel operator, dice "fader,"
and triggerman -- who had been a top player in Texas
gambling and political circles for more than two decades
decided it was high time toboogaloo. The Fix had shifted in
Dallas and the Chicago mob and Jack Ruby had invaded
Binion's old turf. Benny went on the lam (léim, jump),
scramming to Vegas with two million dollars in the trunk of
his maroon Cadillac. Benny Binion opened up the Horseshoe
Casino in 1951, with Meyer Lansky as a silent partner, and
in 1970 founded The World Series of Poker. He remained a
major figure in Las Vegas until his death at the age of
eighty-five in 1989.
But while it may have been Irish Americans like Price
McGrath, "Old Smoke" Morrisey, King Mike McDonald, Hinky
Dink Kenna, and Big Tim Sullivan who laid the foundation
for today's multi-billion dollar American gaming industry,
the foundation itself was the now-forgotten gambling game
The Sanas (etymology, secret knowledge) of Faro
Conventional wisdom on the history of the banking card game
of Faro is that it was derived from the Italian card game
Bassetta and first appeared in France sometime in the 17th
century under the mysterious name of "Pharaon," where it
was transformed into a fast-paced gambling game called
Pharaon and Faro are said to be derived from the word
"Pharaoh" for an Egyptian monarch, supposedly a common
image on the backs of 16th and 17th century French card
decks, which were later imported to England. However, no
evidence of Pharaoh face cards in France or England in
17th, 18th, or 19th centuries has ever been documented.
What is certain is that by the 1700s, Faro had spread from
France to England and was "all the rage" among the slave-
owing, slave-trading muckety muck (mórgachtaí mórgachta,
majesties of majesty, highnesses of highness) English
aristocrats and nouveau riche merchant classes.
In Pharaon and Faro the main move is called "the Turn" and
occurs when the faro dealer turns out two cards together
from the card shoe and places them face up on the faro
layout. The first card is a loser and all wagers on it are
collected by the bank; the second card is a winner for the
gambler who has bet on it and pays two to one. The Irish
and Scots-Gaelic verbal phrase "fiar araon" means
precisely, "to turn both; to turn each of two; to turn both
together" and is the source of the mysterious word Pharaon.
To turn both; to turn two together.
Fiar is an Irish transitive verb and means "to turn, twist,
coil, or bend; the adverb araon, means "together, both,
each of two." The verbal nominative of the Irish verb Fiar,
"to turn," is Fiaradh (pron. fearoo or fairoo) and is
defined as "the act of turning, twisting, or coiling."
Fiaradh (pron. fearoo, turning) is the Irish name for the
"Turning" Game of Faro.
Faro: a banking card game where the main move is called "a
Fiaradh, (pron. fearoo): Turning, a turn. Vn. Turning, (act
of) turning, coiling, twisting.
The Fiaradh (Turning) of the Irish "Wild Geese"
From an historical perspective, it is not surprising that
Irish words found their way into 17th and 18th century
French gambling "slang" and the Paris underworld. In the
two hundred years between the 'Flight of the Irish Earls"
in 1607 and the unsuccessful United Irish Uprising of 1798,
hundreds of thousands of Irish-speaking soldiers, rebels,
refugees, and Gaelic aristocrats fled to France in the
largest protracted Irish continental immigration in the
early modern period. In 1691, alone, 11,000 Irish soldiers
sailed to France after the Treaty of Limerick. This multi-
generational, mass Irish emigration to France, Spain, and
Catholic Europe is known in Irish history as the "Flight of
the Wild Geese."
The negative impact of this long Irish exile experience in
France and Spain has been highlighted by the historians
Maurice Hennessey and David Bracke, who traced the
pervasive crime and destitution in the ranks of the Irish
Regiments in France to military force reductions by Louis
XIV, following the Treaty of Riswick in 1697 . "A good many
of (the Irish) became highwaymen and robbers...formed
themselves into gangs and roamed the roads and farmlands in
search of prey." The Irish Wild Geese had shape shifted
into highwaymen, gamblers, smugglers, and buccaneers (boc
aniar, rogues from the west, playboy(s)of the western
world) of imperial France and Spain and their North and
South American colonies.
Gaelic New Orleans: 1717 - 1769
The Gaelic influence on the port city of New Orleans was
present from the very moment of its birth. In September,
1717, the Scottish world-class Faro (Fiaradh) banker, con
man, and financial wizard, John Law, and his Company of the
West, popularly known as The Mississippi Company, obtained
control of the entire French province of Louisiana by royal
A former high-stakes Faro mechanic (mí-cheannaíocht,
crooked, evil dealer) and sure-thing trickster, John Law
worked fast. He initiated a land and stock selling campaign
that swept France into a mad frenzy of financial
speculation. The French national currency was floated and
the "Mississippi Bubble," which would bring the country to
the brink of economic ruin, was inflated into the most
massive financial swindle in early modern European history.
Colonists willing to immigrate to Louisiana were needed to
create an illusion of success, so John Law's underworld
operatives ransacked French jails and hospitals to find
them: "Disorderly soldiers, black sheep of distinguished
families, paupers, prostitutes, political suspects,
friendless strangers, unsophisticated peasants, were all
kidnapped, herded, and shipped under guard to fill the
emptiness of Louisiana." The city of New Orleans was
founded a year later, in 1718, and by the 1740s had become
a prosperous port city with 2,000 inhabitants, including
three hundred French soldiers and three hundred African
The new French royal colony came to a sudden end, in August
1769, when Don Alexander O'Reilly, an Irish Soldier of
Fortune, and one of the most celebrated of Na Géanna Fiáine
(the Wild Geese), landed at New Orleans with twenty-four
Spanish warships and three thousand soldiers -- many of
them the Irish-speaking buccaneers of the Spanish crown's
Irish brigades and took possession of the city for the
King of Spain. The bloody rule of Admiral O'Reilly set an
early pattern of Irish immigration to the Crescent City
that was to persist and grow for more than a hundred years.
In 1860, the United States Federal Census reported that
fourteen percent of the citizens of New Orleans were Irish-
born, equaling exactly the percentage of African Americans
(7% gens de coleur libre, free people of color, 7% slaves)
in the city's burgeoning population. If we add second,
third, and even fourth-generation Irish-Americans, whose
families had lived in the port city since the mid-18th
century, on the eve of the Civil War twenty to 25 percent
of the population of New Orleans was of Irish or hybrid-
Irish descent. (16)
By the 1820s, New Orleans had also become the premier
gambling city in the United States and Faro was its Tiger
(diaga, holy, divine) God of the Odds. From 1830 to the
Civil War, the underworld historian Herbert Asbury
estimated that between six to eight hundred gamblers and
sure-thing tricksters, most of them Irish-Americans,
regularly worked the steamboats that ran between New
Orleans and St. Louis. Famous Faro sharpers like Jimmy
Fitzgerald, Gib Cohern, Jim McClane, Tom Mackay, Charles
Cassidy, Pat Herne, and Price McGrath were all leading
members of the loosely organized, hybrid-Gaelic gambling
clans of New Orleans, who scattered throughout the south
and northeastern United States in the 1830s.
In New York City, the Big Easy Irishman Pat Herne teamed up
with the top Faro banker Henry Colton, who "was regarded as
a sort of supreme tribunal of gaming...and in gambling
circles throughout the United States his decisions were
binding." Henry Colton's moniker (alias or underworld name)
in Irish is An Rí Ghealltáin (pron. An ree Calltawn), and
means "the King of Wagers, Bets, and Promises."
From "Henry Colton" in the 1840s, to the panel-house
operator and gambler "Shang" (Seang, pron. shang, Slim)
Draper (Dribire, one who lays snares) in the 1880s, to the
"Yellow" (Éalú, absconding, escaping, sneaking away) Kid,
the nickname of both a famous newspaper cartoon character
and infamous Chicago con man in the early 1900s, to Owney
Madden's old underworld ally, Tanner (Dána, bold, intrepid)
Smith, at the dawn of the Jazz Age, underworld monikers
were often as Irish as the racketeers (racadóira, dealers,
sporty characters) themselves.
By the mid-19th century the Faro "Tiger" was on the prowl
from the prairies and wide-open cow towns of Texas to San
Francisco of the Gold Rush era. "Faro was the mainstay of
every important gambling house north of the Rio Grande
River...No other card game or dice game, not even Poker or
Craps, has ever achieved the popularity in this country
that faro once enjoyed." Faro also became the "first medium
of extensive card cheating seen in the United States," and
was the crooked foundation on which the world-famous
gambling casinos of New York City and Saratoga were built.
Rules of the Faro Game
Faro was one of the simplest gambling games ever devised.
Players bet against "the bank" or "the house," rather than
against one another's póca (pocket or purse) as in a poker
game. Punters (gamblers) placed their bets on a green baize
layout called a "sweat" (suite, set, established, fixed,
site) cloth, with the images of a suit of cards painted on
it, representing all thirteen denominations from Ace to
King. Once a Faro (Fiaradh) banker set out his "sweat
cloth" and "case keeper" in a saloon or gambling joint, he
was in business.
A Set, Fixed, or Site (Cloth)
Unique to Faro was the "Case (Cas, Turn) Keeper," an
abacus-like device, set within a wooden cabinet with
miniature cards painted on to it, matching those on the
layout. A thin wire ran from each card picture on which
four button-shaped discs were hung, which another dealer's
assistant, also called a "Case Keeper," manipulated like a
miniature billiard counter, recording each of the cards as
they were turned out two at a time from the tellbox. The
Case Keeper allowed the bettors to determine which card
denominations had been turned out of the deck.
"Keepin' cases" in a Faro game took a sharp eye and became
a popular slang term for keeping a close watch on someone
or something. A variation of "keeping cases," which still
survives today, is the term "to case a joint," meaning to
check a place out carefully with the vigilance of a "case
In Hughie, Eugene O'Neill's last play, set in a crummyhotel
near Times Square in 1928, a year before the Age of
Jazzbecame Age of the Stock Market Sucker, a small time
grifter and gambler named "Erie" Smith, complained about
his dead palHughie's wary wife.
Erie Smith: "In all the years I knew him, he never bet...on
nothin'. But it ain't his fault. He'd have took a chance,
but how could he with his wife keepin' cases on every
nickel of his salary? I showed him lots of ways he could
cross her up, but he was too scared." (22)
Cas (Turn) Keeper
Cas, v., to turn, to twist, wind, coil.
Casadh, (pron. casah) Vn, act of turning, twisting,
Cas is an Irish verb meaning "to turn, twist, or wind," and
its verbal nominative casadh (pron. casah) is translated as
"the act of turning, twisting, winding, or coiling." Cartaí
a chasadh (pron. cartee a casah) means "to turn the cards."
The Case Keeper was the Cas (Turn) Keeper. (23).
Two Irish and Scots-Gaelic words, Fiaradh and Cas, both
mean "turning and twisting" in a gambling game whose main
move was called "The Turn" in English.
For gamblers in an honest Faro game, the ideal time to
wager was after three cards of the same denomination have
been turned out. The house or bank had absolutely no
advantage then, so smart players could buck (buach, pron.
buak, go up against, defeat) the Tiger if the odds turned
in their favor.
Like any successful gambling game, whether in a swank "rug
joint" or the back lot of a carnival, Faro appeared to be a
game that could be beat.
But there was no such thing as a square ('s coir, is honest
and fair) Faro game; every Faro game was a scam ('s cam, is
'S cóir, contraction of Is cóir (é.)
Fair play. Honest. (It) is honest. (It) is fair play.
'S cam. contraction of Is cam (é.)
A trick; a deceit. Lit. (It) is crooked; (it) is a trick.
Cóir, adj. & n., honest, just, fair; proper, decent.
Justice, equity, honesty, fairness.
Cam, n., crookedness, a deceit, a trick.
The turns, coils, bends, and twists of the "turning,
twisting" game of Faro mirrored the Celtic triple-spirals
sculpted onto the massive lintel stones of megalithic
monuments in the Boyne Valley, fifteen hundred years before
a Pharaoh built the first pyramid. The Tiger was the faro
gambler's god of the odds and the sweat cloth was his
The Tiger God of the Odds
Diaga, holy, diagaire, divine, and diagacht, a god, are all
modern Irish words descended from the Old Irish word dea,
meaning "a pagan divinity," and deacht, "a pagan god."
The American-Gaelic tricksters of the 19th and early 20th
centuries worshipped a god who gambled with the universe.
In a Faro Game ruled by the Tiger and dealt by a mechanic
(mí-cheannaíocht, an evil, crooked dealer), a sucker (sách
úr, a fresh new "fat cat") or a mark (marc, target) out on
a spree (spraoi, fun, sport, frolic) was lured by a roper
(ropaire, a scoundrel, a thief) into a Faro joint (díonta,
pron. jeent, a shelter, fig. house) where a skilled shill
(síol, pron. sheel, to propagate or seed) seeded the game
with the house's moolah (moll óir, a pile of gold or
money), while the capper (ciapaire, a goader) goaded the
swell (sóúil) to guzzle (gus óil, drink vigorously) and
slug (slog, swallow, gulp) the high class whiskey (uisce)
and wager his jack (tiach, pron. jiak, a purse, fig. money)
Mechanic, a crooked Faro dealer.
Mí-cheannaíocht, an evil dealer.
Sách úr. a new, green, well-fed fellow. A fresh "fat cat"
Mark, a sucker who has become the "target" of a
Marc, a target
Roper, the scoundrel who "ropes" suckers into a "braced"
(fixed) Faro game.
Ropaire, a scoundrel, a thief.
Joint, any place a Faro banker sets up his "sweat" cloth.
Díonta (pron. jynt or jeent), a shelter, fig. any type of
shelter from a shanty to a mansion.
Shill, the "shill" seeds the game with the faro banker's
moolah (money) and often wins big to lure the "marks"
into a fixed Faro game.
Síol, (pron, sheel), to propagate, seed, or sow.
A "Mark Anthony" what gamblers call a "super-sucker."
Marc andána: a rash and reckless mark.
The premier Faro rug joint of 19th century New York City
was the Tapis Franc, where the organization put the screw
to the slumming dude (dúd) and fleeced the flush (flúirse,
pron. flursh, abundant, plentiful) pockets of the "super-
sucker" known as a "Mark Anthony" (marc andána, pron. mark
antanay, a rash and reckless mark) who tried to buck the
II. The Sanas (etymology, secret knowledge) of Poker
The American Heritage Dictionary sums up contemporary
scholarly opinion on the history and origin of the word
Poker: "etymology (and) origin unknown." The Oxford English
Dictionary is equally "uncertain" and traces one of the
earliest appearances of the word Poker in the American-
English language to an 1836 quote from Hildreth's Campaigns
in the Rocky Mountains. "M - lost some cool hundreds last
night at poker."
By the 1870s, Poker was the most widely played short card
game in the United States and was said to be based on the
ancient Persian game of As Nas, which had been imported
into France sometime in the 18th century. According to most
gambling historians, As Nas evolved into a French three-
card bluffing game called Poque, another word of mysterious
origin. As the story goes, Poque like Faro was carried to
New Orleans in the early 19th century by French and
European gamblers, where it ultimately emerged as the game
we know today as Poker.
Poker was described by Herbert Asbury as a hybrid short
card game "formed by superimposing two important American
innovations Jackpots and Stud... on the bragging (bréag,
to lie or exaggerate) or bluffing found in many English,
French, and Italian games like Brag, Primero...Poque and
Some dictionaries suggest that the word Poque might be
related to the German gambling game Pochspiel, or the
"pounding game," which contains an element of "bluffing."
But pounding on the table is never an effective poker bluff
- even in a German beer hall.
The Irish-American novelist and poker champion, James
McManus, in his book, Fifth Street, speculates that the
word Poque might be derived from the Irish word Póg (pron.
pogue), meaning a "kiss." However, the Irish language
scholar and lexicographer, Patrick S. Dineen in his
foundational Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, Irish-English
Dictionary derives the Irish word Póg (kiss) from the Latin
word "Pax," meaning "peace, and the early medieval
Christian practice of greeting people with the word "Pax"
and a Póg (kiss) on the cheek. Kissing and peace are
incompatible with poker.
It is possible McManus might be subconsciously referring to
the loud "Póg" heard in poker games in his birthplace of
the Bronx after a bad beat (béad, an injury, or a loss), in
the NY-Irish phrase "Póg mo thóin (pron. pogue ma hone),
meaning "kiss my ass," which turns the early medieval Irish
Christian practice on its head.
Perhaps, we should turn conventional wisdom on its head and
-- as in a Poker game -- go for the pocket? (31).
Poker is a short card game that is played out of your Póca
(pocket) and against the other gambler's Póca (pocket or
purse.) There is no bank or "house" in poker.. A Faro
(Fairadh, pron. fearoo, turning) game needs a skilled
dealer (a mechanic), an assistant dealer, and a case (cas,
turn) keeper, as well as cappers, ropers, and shills, to
seed the game with the house's jack, work the marks, and
feed a constant supply of fresh suckers to the Faro
"Tiger." Faro also requires a large bankroll for a house
Raising the nut (neart, pron. n'art, a sufficiency, enough)
for the bank and transporting the cumbersome Faro
paraphernalia, was difficult for the itinerant gamblers of
the 19th century American frontier. In a poker game the
gambler carried all his paraphernalia, a deck of cards and
a bankroll, in his back póca (pocket). There was a fresh
pocket to be plucked in each new hand of poker. The
possibilities of new pockets were as limitless as the
endless supply of suckers, who were, as Mike McDonald said,
"born every minute."
The Irish word Póca means "a pocket, bag, pouch, or purse"
in English and is said by American and English dictionaries
to be derived from the Middle English word poke, the Anglo
Saxon poca, and the English pocket. The German language
scholar Kuno Meyer, however, takes the Irish word póca from
the Norse pok. Norwegian and Danish Vikings, founded
Dublin, Waterford, and other Irish port cities in the 8th
and 9th centuries and left a considerable lexical imprint
on the Irish language.
Exactly when the transition in America from Poque to Poker
occurred is unknown. The Irish-American writer and poker
champion James McManus also speculated that the southern
pronunciation of Poque was "pokuh," which is precisely how
you pronounce póca (pocket) in Irish. What we do know is
that old Poque game evolved into the modern Poker game on
the fingertips of the professional card sharps, as the
rules were changed and the game was sped up and modernized.
The twenty-card deck was replaced with fifty-two cards to
accommodate as many as ten players. Flushes and straights
were introduced, and a draw of up to three cards was
permitted, producing more rounds of betting. This in turn
produced bigger payoffs and a larger pot for the gamblers,
as well as more opportunities to cheat. The old Poque Game
of New Orleans became the new Poker game we play today: the
hybrid short card game with the hybrid Irish and American
The word "pocket" is a key term in modern No-Limit Texas
Hold "Em Poker (Póca, pocket) game. The two "hole" cards
each gambler is dealt down are called "pocket" cards. Two
aces are "pocket rockets" and two pair is a "pocket pair."
Beat, to get beat. A bad beat, a beat artist. A bad beat in
poker is when a powerful hand is defeated by one even more
powerful, known as a "nut" hand.
Béad: a loss, injury, robbery, crime; sorrow. To be robbed
Capper, the shill who goads the sucker to bet larger and
larger amounts. In New York and Brooklyn Irish-American
Vernacular to "cap" on someone means to goad or torment
Ciapaire, a goader. Ciap, to goad or torment.
In a Faro game all bets paid two to one, except the "Last
Turn" of the final three cards, which paid four to one. In
a Poker (Póca, pocket) game the limit to the pot is the
amount of the jack in the other person's pocket. There is a
new pot for every hand in a póca game and a new player can
add his or her pocket of fresh Jack to the pot. The poker
bank is as inexhaustible as the pockets of the players.
In the new democratic poker game, unlike aristocratic Faro
-- where the bank, or house, controls the deal -- there is
always a "new deal." The button (beart t-aon, one dealing)
rotates to all players.
Though, in the 1870s a new poker game called Stud became
popular. In Stud (stad, stop) poker the deal does not
rotate from player to player, but stops (stad, stop, fig.
stays) with the house dealer. It is a one button game. (35)
If a Poker game is square ('s cóir, is honest, fair) any
smart lucky punter (buainteoir, a winner) can be a winner.
But if a button" is snakin' (snoíochan, pron. snakin',
marking, clipping, cutting, meddling with) the deck,
"puttin' in the gaff (gaf, a trick or deceit, a crooked
device), or ringing (roinn, pron. ring, to deal) in a
crooked deck, every Punter is a loser. Cheating is as easy
in Poker as it is in Faro.
When a Poker game is a scam ('s cam, is crooked), the river
(ríofa, calculator, computer, enumerator, reckoning) card
always runs into the pocket (póca) of the "mechanic." No
matter how many times a mark shuffles and cuts the deck,
Fifth Street is always Beat (Béad, Loss, Crime, Injury,
A mark in a snaked game might as well muck (múch, pron.
muk, to turn over and smother) a nut (neart, pron. n'art,
power, strength) hand, the pot always winds up in the
pocket of the dealer with the gimmick (camóg).
The Poker (Póca, Pocket) game is the ideal name for the
premier short card game of the American crossroad. There is
no house bank. It is one pocket against another.
Sanas Beag (a small glossary) of Poker
Tiach, tiag (pron. jack): a purse, a wallet, fig. money.
"Jack" was the American playwright Eugene O'Neill's
favorite term for money. In the Iceman Cometh, O'Neill's
Pulitzer Prize winning drama, set in 1910 in Harry Hope's
saloon in a New York City slum, Rocky the bartender
discussed the benefits of Jack.
ROCKY: "... Not dat I blame yuh for not woikin'. On'y
suckers woik. But dere's no percentage in bein' broke when
yuh can grab good jack for yourself and make someone else
woik for yuh, is dere?" (38)
In O'Neill's final play Hughie, a down on his luck gambler,
Erie Smith, recalls the twists and turns of the gods of the
ERIE: "Some nights I'd come back here without a buck,
feeling lower than a snake's belly, and the first thing you
know I'd be lousy with jack, bettin' a grand a race." (39)
Jack as slang for money is now rare, unless you win a lulu
(liú luath, pron. loo luah, a howler, a scream) of a jack
Brag: The name for an early card game related to Poker
Bréag: A lie, exaggeration, deceit, deception.
According to Herbert Asbury, the early card game Brag's
influence on poker was so great that it was often called
"the brag game." In the early forms of Brag, the jack of
clubs and the ace and nine of diamonds were wild and called
braggers (bréagóir, a braggart, liar, and exaggerator). The
key endeavor of the Brag card game as described in
Seymour's Court Gamester, published in 1719, was " to
impose on the judgment of the rest who play...by boasting
or bragging of the cards in your hand."
The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology speculates that the
word "brag" might "possibly" have a Gaelic origin, though
inexplicably links it to a "Celtic" word meaning trousers;
"brag ...of uncertain origin; possible sources include
Gaullish or Celtic 'braca,' (a) kind of trousers..."
Barnhart also cites Provencal, French (Swiss dialect),
Scandinavian, and Old Icelandic as other possible sources
of the word "brag." (41)
Well into the late 19th century "brag" was considered
"slang" in American English. The underworld slang
lexicologist and warden of New York City's Tombs prison,
George Matsell, included "brag" in his Vocabulum or The
Rogue's Lexicon, defining it is a "boast." Professor
MacBain the Scots-Gaelic etymologist, derived the Irish
word bréag from Old Irish bréc, and related it to the
Sanskrit bhramca, a deviation.
The River Card
The Ríofa Card
Computer, Calculator, Reckoner Card.
The Card of Reckoning.
Ríofa, al. ríomhaire (pron. reever), reckoner, calculator,
computer; Ríomh, v.t. (pp. ríofa), Reckon, compose,
arrange, set in order, enumerate, calculate.
Ríomhadh (pron. reeveh) Reckoning, (act of) reckoning,
arranging, setting in order; calculating. Reckoner.
Calculator. al. rímhe (reeveh), m. (act of) reckoning,
composing, arranging, setting in order.
The River (Ríofa) Card, also known as "Fifth Street," is
the final and fifth community card in 7-Card Texas Hold
'Em. The Ríofa (computing, calculating, reckoning) card is
the card of final computation, calculation, and reckoning.
Everyone knows when the River (Ríofa) Card flows on Fifth
Nut; the nut hand; the nut cards; also the nuts
Neart (pron. n'art)
Power, physical strength, force. Enough, plenty, a
The Nut hand is the hand with the power in poker. The "Nut"
or "Nuts" is the strongest possible hand in 7 Card Texas
Hold 'Em. Any gender can have the nuts on Fifth Street.
In Irish American Vernacular the word "nut" is also used to
mean a "sufficiency" or "enough," as in, "I made my weekly
nut." To be a "nut" was also to be a "power" and was most
often a good thing in the speech of the 19th and early 20th
century North American breac-Ghaeltachta. Today, sadly, the
old "neart" has been reduced to the whacky "nut." Though,
even crazy "nuts" are powerful. As in the expression: "He
fought like a nut." That's the Irish neart in an Irish-
American nut shell.
Múch (pron. muk or mook, "ch" = "k") to cover over, deaden,
Muck, to cover over your cards and "kill" them.
Muck is both a verb and a noun in poker: to muck means "to
turn your cards over face down in the center of the table."
The "muck" can also mean the pile of cards covered over
face down in front of the dealer. A pile of dead cards.
Téacht (pron. chayk).
To freeze; to set.
When you check in poker you tap the table, freeze your bet,
Snakin' the deck
Snoíochán (pron. snakin')
(Act of) meddling; carving, cutting; filing.
Snakin' the deck means "to carve, mark, cut, or meddle
with" it; or to surreptitiously ring (roinn, pron. ring,
deal) in a "snaked" deck for a square one.
Cuid oíche (pron. cuiddihy)
Some of the night. A share, a portion of the night, The
night's meal or livelihood or property..
The kitty also became a name for the money and swag that a
faro banker cut up with his crew: the mechanic, case
keeper, cappers, and shills at the end of the night. At the
end of the day, the cuiddihy, or "kitty," is "any shared
portion of money or benefits."
A cheap niggardly person. A two-bit lout.
A piker is a name for two-bit penny ante gambler or a cheap
Beat. To get beat. A "beat" artist.
Béad: A loss, injury, robbery, crime; sorrow. To be robbed
A smart gambler has the number of every sucker on Beat
The last word in Hughie, the last play by the Nobel-prize
winning Irish-American playwright, Eugene O'Neill, is
actually two Irish words concealed beneath the phonetic
orthography of that key American "slang" term, "sucker"
Sách úr (pron. saahk oor) A new, fresh, well-fed, self-
satisfied fellow. A fresh "fat cat."
"There isn't any such thing as an honest gambler." Richard
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