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January 03, 2007

SF in Intense Talks on Policing

News About Ireland & The Irish

Michael Yeats pictured last year at the opening of the WB Yeats

exhibition at the National Library. He was regularly involved in
events featuring his father and his work
Photograph: The Irish Times (click pic to see full picture)

BB 01/03/07 Intense Talks On Policing Held
IT 01/04/07 Blair Cuts Short Holiday To Deal With North
BN 01/03/07 Govts Urged To Stress Power-Sharing Deadline
BN 01/03/07 Hyland Quits Sinn Féin
BT 01/03/07 Assembly Will See 10 New Members After Election
BT 01/03/07 SF Bid To Silence Policing Rebels
BN 01/03/07 Police Blamed As Bank-Heist Charges Dropped
BN 01/03/07 Adams Challenged Over Disappeared Info Plea
IE 01/03/07 Immigration Reform Rising
IM 01/03/07 Bloody Sunday 35th Anniversary
AZ 01/03/07 Opin: Irish Catholic Model Being 'Hispanicized'
BN 01/03/07 Property Market Keeps Celtic Tiger Roaring
BT 01/03/07 Irish Becomes The 23rd Official Language Of EU
RT 01/03/07 Michael Yeats, Son of WB Yeats, Dies, Aged 86
IT 01/04/07 Sea Eagles Return In 5-Year Killarney Project


'Intense' Talks On Policing Held

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has held a series of
discussions on policing with Tony Blair over recent days.

Sinn Fein said the talks with the British government,
including some on Wednesday, have been "intense".

A spokesman said the talks follow the lack of a positive
response from the DUP to Sinn Fein's decision to call a
special party conference on policing.

The conference had been expected to take place before the
end of January but is now in doubt.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior said Sinn Fein's statement had
an air of panic about it.

"Our party leader's comment in recent days couldn't have
been any clearer," he said.

"I think you can smell the panic in Sinn Fein from this
latest statement. They know what republicans have to do."


Last month, the Sinn Fein leadership voted to hold the
conference on the issue of whether to support policing in
Northern Ireland.

More than two-thirds of the executive voted in favour of
the meeting.

Mr Adams said the meeting would be held if the two
governments and the DUP gave a positive response.

In his new year message DUP leader Ian Paisley said Sinn
Fein's "begrudging movement" on policing reduced the
prospect of any immediate action towards restoring

However, the DUP leader said his party would "not be found
wanting" if Sinn Fein honoured its commitment "with

Sinn Fein support for policing would be viewed as removing
one of the main obstacles to restoring devolution.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/03 22:30:58 GMT


Blair Cuts Short Holiday To Deal With Tensions In North

Thu, Jan 04, 2007

British prime minister Tony Blair has decided to cut short
his Miami holiday by a day to try to head off a potential
collapse of efforts to have Sinn Féin sign up to policing,
writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor.

Mr Blair last night decided to shorten his Christmas break
after a series of telephone contacts with Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams alerted him to a serious concern that
the chance of reaching a political deal was in danger of
breaking down, a senior talks source confirmed.

Mr Blair is due to engage in further intensive telephone
contact with Mr Adams and the DUP leader, the Rev Ian
Paisley, today in an effort to persuade them to find
middle-ground on policing.

The concern was sparked publicly last night after Sinn
Féin's most senior spokesman issued a statement implicitly
warning of the threat to the political process. He repeated
how last week's ardchomhairle agreed to call an ardfheis on
policing subject chiefly to the DUP responding positively.

"To date there has been no such positive response from the
DUP. Given the seriousness of this situation the Sinn Féin
leadership has been in intensive discussions with the
British government," he added.

The spokesman said Mr Adams had spoken several times to Mr
Blair over recent days, most recently last night.

The complaint about the absence of a positive DUP response
was a reference to Dr Paisley's new year statement where he
said he could sign up to a specific timetable for
transferring policing powers to the Northern Executive,
which is a key demand of Sinn Féin.

However, while there were positive notes in the statement,
it was clear from London, Dublin and Sinn Féin sources that
more was expected of Dr Paisley after Sinn Féin, under Mr
Adams's direction, took the step of calling a prospective
ardfheis on policing for later this month. It was felt that
the statement was too equivocal on whether the DUP might
agree a date for the transfer of policing powers.

The governments fear that without Dr Paisley providing a
more positive form of words about the policing timeframe
then the ardfheis will not take place and the chance to
agree a deal where Sinn Féin historically endorses the PSNI
could be lost.

The prime minister was in contact with Dr Paisley over
recent days, sources said.

Current difficulties are exacerbated by hardline DUP
politicians and republicans attempting to scupper a deal.

A Government spokeswoman said the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
discussed the potential crisis with Mr Blair on Tuesday

"A successful Sinn Féin ardfheis is essential to keep the
St Andrews timetable on track and every effort must be made
by all parties to ensure that this happens," she added.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Govts Urged To Stress Power-Sharing Deadline

03/01/2007 - 18:31:01

The Irish and British Governments were tonight urged to
make it clear to Ian Paisley that the March 26 deadline for
power-sharing at Stormont is for real.

As Sinn Féin came to terms with the resignation of its
Assembly member Davy Hyland over the party’s move to
endorse the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), SDLP
leader Mark Durkan challenged claims by Paisley that the
latest bid to secure devolution and republican support for
policing was not about deadlines or dates.

The Foyle MP noted: “Ian Paisley, in his new year’s
statement, says that the process is not about deadlines or

“In fact, it is. It’s about a very big date: March 26. That
is the date by which we have to get the executive set up
for the benefit of all our people.

“Ian Paisley seems to think that he can get away with
pretending that the deadline doesn’t exist.

“He seems to think that it doesn’t matter if instead we are
lumped with direct rule and all its abuses like water

“That’s why the two governments must make it absolutely
clear to the DUP that the deadline does exist and will be
strictly enforced, no matter how much the DUP try to duck,
dive or delay.”

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair have pinned their hopes of restoring power-sharing by
March 26 on Sinn Féin backing the PSNI at a special party
conference on policing later this month.

Mr Paisley’s Democratic Unionists are adamant that they
will not share power with Sinn Féin until it supports the
police, the courts and the rule of law.

No date has as yet been announced for Sinn Féin’s special
conference but if it is to happen before the Transitional
Assembly dissolves at Stormont it is believed the very
latest it could be held is the weekend of January 27.

The party’s Assembly team was today briefed on the outcome
of recent negotiations with the British government.

In the run-up to the conference, the party has given a
broad outline of the type of motion delegates will debate.

It will call for support for the Garda and the PSNI and for
Sinn Féin members to take their seats on the Northern
Ireland Policing Boards and District Policing Partnerships.

Mr Durkan welcomed signs that Sinn Féin was edging closer
to supporting the police.

But the SDLP leader said the party needed to deliver on
policing, no matter what the DUP said or did.

“We will only get the best possible protection against
crime when all parties work with the police,” he argued.

“If Sinn Féin refuse to accept policing, they will be
leaving nationalist areas with worse protection against

“Nothing that the DUP does or refuses to do can justify
leaving nationalist areas more exposed to crime.

“If Sinn Féin refuse to sign up to policing, what they will
really be doing is handing the DUP a veto over the right of
nationalists to be protected against crime. That would be

During a radio phone-in dominated by day-to-day policing
questions, PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde urged republicans
to take their seats on local policing bodies and address
the issues they raised with him at a meeting at Stormont
last month.

“They were asking similar questions, ironically, to things
I am regularly asked at the Policing Board,” he told BBC
Radio Ulster.

“It was exactly those issues, MI5, not so much on-the-runs,
community policing, style of policing, the AEPs (the baton
rounds used during public order), all the sort of issues
you would expect representatives to talk about.

“That debate has to be public. It has to be on the Policing
Board and it has to be at the District Policing
Partnerships. I think when we get to that stage things are
looking up.”


Hyland Quits Sinn Féin

03/01/2007 - 18:15:29

A Sinn Féin Assemblyman quit today amid heightening
tensions inside the party over policing.

The decision by Davy Hyland to become an independent left
the leadership facing a potential challenge in Newry and
Armagh, and possibly Mid Ulster.

With party president Gerry Adams accused of attempting to
stifle criticism of the move towards endorsing the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), disillusioned
republicans claimed they were being threatened to stay

Mr Hyland said: “I leave secure in the knowledge that I
remain true to my republican principles.”

His resignation is a blow to Sinn Féin attempts to present
a unified front ahead of its monumental shift in policy.

He is now the fourth member of its Assembly team who will
not go forward for re-election to the new parliament on
March 7.

The Business Committee at Stormont was informed today of
his decision, which leaves the party as the third-largest
group with 23 MLAs.

More worrying for the leadership is the growing opposition
to its strategy to embrace the new policing arrangements in
the North at an historic conference in Dublin later this

Mr Hyland, who was deselected just before Christmas, said
he had reluctantly concluded there was no longer a place
for him in Sinn Féin.

He claimed there was a limited timeframe for the public to
have its say on policing.

“There’s been some discussion within Sinn Féin, but I don‘t
think the wider community, the people who actually elect
Sinn Féin representatives, I don’t think they have been
consulted enough,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Mr Hyland added: “When I joined it (Sinn Féin) in 1981 it
certainly was a very democratic party.

“Perhaps as time goes on maybe power becomes too
centralised and individuals are given too much power.”

His announcement followed growing dissension on the
policing plans.

In a joint letter published today, John Kelly, a former
MLA, and Brendan “The Dark” Hughes, a one-time close
confidant of Mr Adams and leader of the first hunger strike
inside the Maze Prison, hit out at alleged Sinn Féin
intimidation of republicans speaking out against the new

Denying claims by party leaders that they were being
targeted by dissident factions, the pair said: “In our view
there are threats being made.

“But they are coming from Sinn Féin and directed against
republicans who seek a wider debate on the policing issue.

“A number of people have been warned by Sinn Féin that they
must not attend independent meetings organised by
republicans around the policing issue.”

Their letter in today’s Irish News added: “It is the
possibility of republicans fed up with Sinn Féin lies and
deceit deciding to mount an electoral challenge that sends
shudders of anxiety through the leadership circles.”

The pair’s claims were backed up by another ex-IRA prisoner
who left over the decision to sign up to the 1998 Good
Friday Agreement.

Belfast-based critic Anthony McIntyre claimed Sinn Féin
warned people against attending a policing debate in the
west of the city late last year.

“They were trying to intimidate members of their own party
from going,” he claimed.

“Sinn Féin are desperately trying to ensure the debate (on
policing) doesn’t take place, despite giving the impression
that they are interested in debate.

“In effect they are a totalitarian party.”

A Sinn Féin spokesman rejected the allegations, describing
them as absolute nonsense.

“A number of Sinn Féin members have attended these

He added that party representatives were on the panel at
two of the forums, including one in south Derry, which Mr
Kelly, who left Sinn Féin in 2003 claiming it was a control
dictatorship, did not attend.

“How can they say Sinn Féin is boycotting these meetings
and issuing threats?”

News of Mr Hyland’s resignation emerged as the party’s
Assembly team met at Stormont to discuss its negotiations
on policing.

He was deselected along with Armagh woman Pat O’Rawe last

However, the party’s ruling executive has yet to approve
the result of that selection convention and is understood
to be considering reinstating Ms O’Rawe as a candidate.

The party also announced North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton
and Mid Ulster Assemblywoman Geraldine Dougan, both first-
time members of the Stormont parliament like Mr Hyland,
would not be going forward for personal reasons.

Ms Stanton denied the decision had anything to do with
policing, but Ms Dougan has publicly voiced concerns about
Sinn Féin supporting the PSNI.


Assembly Will See At Least 10 new members after election

[Published: Wednesday 3, January 2007 - 10:11]
By Chris Thorton

With two months to go before the Government's planned
elections, a dozen members of the Stormont Assembly look
unlikely to return to their seats.

Others will probably follow - through deselection,
resignation or, ultimately, rejection by the voters - but
the turnover of MLAs looks set to be less severe than in
the last election.

In 2003, 19 Assembly members dropped off the ballot, due to
either resignation or deselection. Another three were
deselected but ran (they all lost) and another 15 sitting
members were voted out - meaning more than a third of
Assembly seats changed hands.

This time, 10 members certainly won't be returning,
amounting to almost 10% of the Assembly. The future of two
others - both Sinn Fein members - is still undecided.

Those who will not return include Michael Ferguson, the
Sinn Fein MLA who died last autumn. Two other Sinn Fein
MLAs are standing down.

Three senior Ulster Unionists are standing down - former
leader Lord Trimble, former minister Dermot Nesbitt and
former chief whip Jim Wilson.

Alliance also loses two senior members. Eileen Bell, the
current Speaker, and Seamus Close are both retiring.

The SDLP loses former minister Sean Farren and Patricia
Lewsley, who has been appointed Children's Commissioner.

© Belfast Telegraph


SF Bid To Silence Policing Rebels

[Published: Wednesday 3, January 2007 - 10:11]
By Chris Thornton and Matthew McCreary

Sinn Fein's attempt to present a united front on policing
came under fresh pressure today after two prominent
republicans accused the party of trying to silence

And the Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the party is
facing the loss of one fifth of its sitting Assembly party
in what may be a significant indicator of internal

Former Sinn Fein MLA John Kelly, a founder of the
Provisional IRA, and Brendan Hughes, a former Maze hunger
strike leader, claimed that threats were made towards
republicans "who seek a wider debate on the policing

In a published letter, the two men allege that a number of
people have been warned by Sinn Fein "that they must not
attend independent meetings organised by republicans around
the policing issue".

They also state that the Sinn Fein leadership is afraid of
facing the possibility of an electoral challenge from
within republicanism.

"It is not the threat of physical attack that Sinn Fein
leaders fear. This is evident from the way they continue to
go about their daily lives.

"It is the possibility of republicans fed up with Sinn Fein
lies and deceit deciding to mount an electoral challenge
that send shudders of anxiety through the leadership
circles," the letter to the Irish News read.

It continued: "We are concerned that in a bid to stifle
wider discussion within the republican community, Sinn Fein
is pursuing a strategy of threat against dissenting voices.

"They are disguising their own menace by attributing
violent intent to those voices. Such voices are healthy in
a republicanism unafraid of critical self-examination."

The claims have been dismissed by Sinn Fein. A party
spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: "This is total
nonsense. It has no basis in fact or reality."

Five members of the party's 24 in the Assembly are off the
ballot, with another expected to stand down before the
elections on March 7. This may not translate into a loss of
seats but it may represent a sign of discontent within the

Among the members who will not be seeking re-election are
Geraldine Dougan, MLA for Mid-Ulster, who stated that her
decision was for personal reasons, but who has also been
quoted as saying that she has concerns about policing.

North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton will also not be seeking
re-election. Two others - Davy Hyland and Pat O'Rawe - were
both de-selected by the party, although their situation is
not fully resolved. Sinn Fein is also without Michael
Ferguson, who died last autumn.

In 2003 three members of the Sinn Fein Assembly party also
left before that year's elections. They included Mid-Ulster
Assemblyman Mr Kelly, who resigned from Sinn Fein over
differences with the leadership, Mick Murphy, who was de-
selected in South Down, and Pat McNamee who stepped down in
Newry and Armagh because of ill-health

© Belfast Telegraph


Police Blamed As Bank-Heist Charges Dropped

03/01/2007 - 15:53:53

Police chiefs were tonight accused of running a botched
investigation into the £26.5m (€392.2m) Northern Bank
robbery after charges were dropped against two suspects.

A Democratic Unionist Assemblyman claimed public confidence
in the police's ability to handle major cases was being

Jim Wells delivered his scathing assessment of the inquiry
following a dramatic court hearing in which Dominic McEvoy
(aged 23), a builder from Co Down, was told he would no
longer have to stand trial for the December 2004 heist in
Belfast, blamed on the IRA.

Allegations that another man, Martin McAliskey (aged 40),
withheld information and attempted to pervert the course of
justice were also withdrawn.

Solicitors for both men protested at the city’s
Magistrates’ Court, and later the North’s chief constable,
Hugh Orde, admitted: “It’s a setback.”

Mr Wells, a South Down MLA and deputy speaker at the
transitional Stormont Assembly, claimed it was a big
embarrassment for the force.

He said: “This unfortunately isn’t the first time that the
police’s level of detective work has failed to meet the

“It’s quite worrying that again it seems to be lack of
diligence by the PSNI has left us in this position.

“It undermines public confidence in policing because
obviously this was a major, major event in Northern
Ireland’s history.

“Because of that police should have made sure the case was
robust and clearly they haven’t.”

The Public Prosecution Service decided McEvoy, of Mullandra
Park, Kilcoo, no longer had a case to answer for allegedly
carrying out the robbery after studying files submitted by

A charge that he imprisoned bank supervisor Kevin McMullan
and his wife Karen at their home in Loughinisland, Co Down,
was also withdrawn.

Mrs McMullan was seized, blindfolded and held for 24 hours
as her husband was ordered to go into work as part of the
plan to clear the vaults at the Northern’s Belfast city-
centre HQ.

McAliskey, a salesman from Ballybeg Road, Coalisland, Co
Tyrone, had been blamed due to the white Ford Transit van
allegedly used to load the stolen money.

A third man, Northern Bank staff member Chris Ward (aged
25), from Poleglass, west Belfast, is still accused of the

He was remanded on bail to appear again later this month.

The raid, which at the time was the biggest cash heist in
UK history, wrecked attempts to revive the North‘s power-
sharing government.

With Garda and PSNI chiefs blaming the IRA for the raid,
outraged unionists refused to consider any new devolved
administration involving Sinn Féin.

Northern Bank issued a complete batch of new notes in a bid
to make the stolen currency worthless.

With the authorities under increasing pressure to secure
convictions, the dropped charges were a major blow to one
of the biggest investigations yet mounted by the PSNI.

“These cases are extremely complicated,” said Orde after
the court hearing.

“The robbery itself was carried out by a competent group of
criminals. We attributed it to the Provisional IRA at the
time and I don’t detract from that statement one bit.

“This was a particularly brutal crime. People were
extremely badly treated and assaulted by the gang.

“Today is a setback, it would be fair to say.”

The chief constable stressed one of those charged by his
officers is still due to stand trial, and he pledged to
press ahead with the inquiry.

With some of the stolen notes having later turned up in the
Republic, Orde also confirmed he has held recent talks with
Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

“Their case is continuing,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“This one (investigation) still has a very large number of
detectives on it.”

Nevertheless, Sinn Féin Assembly member Caitríona Ruane hit
out at the handling of the investigation, saying it was
dominated by a “political agenda”.

The South Down MLA said: “Since the widely publicised raids
in Kilcoo and the subsequent arrest and charging of Dominic
McEvoy in relation to the Northern Bank raid it has become
increasingly clear to anyone looking at the case
impartially that not a shred of evidence existed against
this young man.

“The entire investigation into the Northern Bank robbery
has been dominated by political detectives working to a
particular political agenda.

“It was never about finding those responsible. It has
always been about trying to implicate republicans. To date
they have failed and will continue to fail.”

She added: “It is welcome that finally these charges and
those against a Coalisland man have finally been dropped
and their personal nightmare is over.

“However, very serious questions remain about the PSNI
conduct throughout this entire investigation.”


Adams Challenged Over Disappeared Information Plea

03/01/2007 - 15:29:52

Gerry Adams was today challenged to have face-to-face talks
with republicans allegedly involved in the murders and
secret burials of the so-called Disappeared.

This followed a new appeal by the Sinn Féin president in a
bid to locate the remains of IRA victims who went missing,
some over 30 years ago.

Mr Adams said he expected the Irish and British governments
to begin work this spring based on recommendations on how
to recover the bodies based on a detailed report by a
forensic expert whose services had been retained as part of
the search process.

The West Belfast MP said in a statement: “It is vitally
important that those charged with this difficult task have
all the information possible to make their efforts a

"While I am mindful not to raise expectations by the
families, I know that the IRA has met with the forensic
expert and that each site has been visited by the expert
and the IRA, including individuals with primary knowledge.

“However, if there is any other information available which
might help I am appealing for those with it to now bring it
forward. This is particularly the case in respect of the
disappearance of Charlie Armstrong, whose family I have met
a number of times.”

The IRA has always denied any involvement in the
disappearance of Mr Armstrong, 55, a father of five who
vanished in August 1981 after leaving his home in
Crossmaglen to drive a pensioner to Mass.

A brother of one of the Disappeared killed by the
Provisionals claimed people with knowledge of what happened
to the victims had ignored previous appeals from the Sinn
Féin leader.

Oliver McVeigh said: “Obviously his flock are not listening
to him. Why?

“With his contacts he should be able to find out who was
involved and personally appeal to them, not issue another

Columba McVeigh, 17, from Donaghmore, Dungannon, was
kidnapped and killed by the Provisionals in 1975.

A two-week excavation of bogland was carried out near
Emyvale, Co Monaghan in 2003. He is among five of the
Disappeared whose remains have yet to be found. His elderly
mother Vera had talks in November with DUP leader Ian

Oliver McVeigh added: “Gerry Adams should be fit to find
out who was involved and meet them face to face. We don’t
care if it’s in secret because the right people are not
coming forward with the information which is needed.”


Reform Rising

Sen. John McCain

Immigration bills already taking shape in new Congress

By Ray O'Hanlon

Even before the new 110th Congress was convened in
Washington this week, legislators from both parties in the
outgoing 109th session were working on revamped immigration

The result is a rising expectation that the Senate will
pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the spring,
probably in March or April.

The House of Representatives will likely take longer to
pass its own immigration measure -- now being crafted by
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, and Rep. Jeff Flake,
Republican -- but would do so in time for an agreed
Senate/House bill to go to President Bush's desk for
signing before year's end.

In a front page story last week, the New York Times
reported that Senators from both parties are planning on
unveiling a bill in January with hopes for final passage
after a two or three month period of deliberation and

Not surprisingly, the main architects of the Senate measure
look like being Senators Edward Kennedy -- poised to become
chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and
Citizenship Subcommittee -- and Senator John McCain.

It was this Democratic/Republican duo that steered passage
through the Senate of the so-called McCain/Kennedy reform
bill last year.

The now anticipated revised version of McCain/Kennedy
should look largely like its first incarnation, but
possibly with one crucial difference.

According to the Times, aides to both senators are looking
at a new bill that would not require undocumented and
illegal immigrants to first leave the United States before
being allowed begin the process of earning legal U.S.

While the Times report did not make any specific reference
to it, such a change would effectively mean resurrection
for Section 245i, a lapsed immigration law provision that
allowed illegals to apply for regular status while
remaining within America's borders.

245i was allowed to expire by Congress in 1998. There have
been efforts to revive it in the intervening years, but
none have been successful.

One such effort occurred in the fall of 2000 when Congress
voted to annually allocate more skills-related visas.
However, efforts to simultaneously restore 245i failed at
the time in both the House and Senate.

Not entirely outdone, however, supporters tried again in
2002. The provision was written into a House proposal but
was ultimately rejected by Sen. Kennedy and others on the
grounds that the revised 245i proposal was restrictive,
particularly in terms of the time that would have been
allowed individuals to apply for relief.

Shortly after this thumbs down, however, then Senate
Majority leader Tom Daschle introduced a bill, the United
Families Act, 2002, that would have allowed immigrants to
remain in the United States while waiting to become
permanent residents.

This Senate version of 245i -- which proposed allowing
individuals more time to apply for legalization -- was
backed by Kennedy and others, including Senator Chris Dodd.

"As we work to respond to the security issues before us, we
can't lose sight of the other immigration issues that are
still a priority," Kennedy said at the time.

"This legislation extends section 245i, a vital provision
of U.S. immigration law which allows individuals who
already legally qualify for permanent residency to process
their applications in the United States, without returning
to their home countries," he said.

245i has long been considered critical by advocates for the
undocumented because, among other things, it allows people
attempting to secure legalization to avoid the trap of
being automatically barred from the U.S. should they leave
the country.

Under current law, an undocumented person must return to
his or her country of origin in order to seek legal status
in the U.S.

However, if the period of undocumented residence in the
U.S. has exceeded six months, the individual is
automatically barred from the U.S. for three years. If the
undocumented period exceeds a year, the ban lasts for 10

Any bill passed by Congress that lacks 245i, or something
along the same lines, would cut across these barring
periods unless they themselves were shelved. There is
little likelihood of that happening.

Assuming a bill containing 245i language is passed by the
Senate in the spring -- and there is enough bipartisan
support to ensure such a development -- the focus would
then shift to the House, always a far less certain
legislative chamber when it comes to the thorny matter of
comprehensive immigration reform.

As has been reported elsewhere, the Times story suggested
that passage of a House bill with earned legalization lines
in it would be "particularly uncertain."

Such uncertainty would not just be due to expected
opposition in GOP ranks, but also on the now majority
Democratic side of the 435-member House.

"The House Democrats are concerned about protecting newly
elected moderate and conservative Democrats, some of whom
had campaigned against legalizing illegal immigrants," The
Times report stated.

Despite this, reform backers, Irish included, are likely to
look first, and with greatest hope, to the Senate measure.

Should it come up for a vote in March, this would coincide
with the annual visit to Washington of the Irish prime

During his visit last year, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern raised
the issue of thousands of undocumented Irish during his
shamrock bowl White House meeting with President Bush.

March has also been set side for a special effort by the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. The group is planning
to rally in Washington on the seventh of that month.

A significant difference between the reform effort in 2007
over last year's version will be the absence of the kind of
political pressure felt by Congress members in a midterm,
or general election year.

That's not to say that a looming 2008 will not be a factor.
The Times report stated that there was indeed a political
clock for legislators to consider.

And in this context it stated that some congressional aides
and immigrant advocates were worried about the continued
commitment of Senator McCain to the reform bandwagon - this
because he will be a likely GOP presidential contender in

If McCain does balk, or does not support a bill that goes
beyond just granting millions of non-immigrant temporary
work visas, it would cause consternation in the reform
camp, not least the Irish portion of it.

At an ILIR rally in the Bronx last April, McCain planted
his flag firmly on the side of an earned legalization

McCain has also been a supporter of the basic premise
behind 245i, but last week's Times report cited "some
advocates" who feared that the Arizona senator's ambitions
might lead to a shift in that stance so as to avoid
alienating "moderate Republicans."

While Ted Kennedy's position on immigration reform is seen
as fixed and unflinching, any hint or suggestion that
McCain might wobble on the issue is certain to cause
serious Irish jitters.

It is to be expected that suitably reassuring words to the
effect that McCain remains "sound" on immigration reform
will be sought before too many days in the new Congress
have passed.

This story appeared in the issue of January 3 - 9, 2007


Bloody Sunday 35th Anniversary

Derry Rights And Freedoms Event Notice
Wednesday January 03, 2007 23:21
By Reibiliun

This year marks the 35th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Bloody Sunday Massacre

This year’s commemorative programme has yet to be finalised
however one of the main highlights of a series of events
will focus on the issue of 'Policing' within the six
counties. A debate most believe has yet to happen.

This years commemorative March and Rally will take place on
Sunday January 28th 2007.


Wreath Laying Ceremony and Prayer Service – everyone

Bloody Sunday Monument, Rossville Street


The Annual Bloody Sunday Commemorative March, followed by
rally at Free Derry Wall.

Assemble: 2pm Creggan Shops, Derry – everyone welcome.

Full details of programme will be listed later.

The Bloody Sunday Centre/Museum is located in Glenfada Park
in the Bogside. The Centre is open to the public at 9.30am
to 4pm every week day from Monday 23rd January. Phone
number 028 71 360880


Opin: Irish Catholic Model Being 'Hispanicized'

My opinion Andrew M. Greeley
Tucson, Arizona Published: 01.02.2007

The New York Times magazine recently suggested that
American Catholicism is being "Hispanicized." As usual when
the subject is the Catholic Church, the "good, gray" Times
is tone-deaf.

The Irish Catholic model of Catholicism, which sometimes
for weal and sometimes for woe has shaped the American
church, is adjusting to a new and powerful model.

Catholicism always tries to do that, since it is a
pluralistic Church that believes, in principle anyway, that
Catholic means, as your man Jimmy Joyce put it, "Here comes
everyone." The outcome will be neither Mexican nor "Anglo"
(which is what they call us Celts out here in the desert)
but a combination of both, a blend of "Irish" rules and
"Mexican" celebration. Catholicism means "both . . . and"
not "either . . . or."

The popular religion of Mexico is a rich rain forest of
devotions, saints, customs, celebrations and theological
insights such as "God is part of our family, and when we
celebrate as a family, God comes and celebrates with us."

At the center of it is the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
once perhaps a pagan goddess, but now unquestionably the
patron of the Mexican peon with whom she identifies. I tell
students that if they want to understand what Catholicism
was like before the Reformation and the Counter-
Reformation, they should look at Mexican popular
Catholicism and read the plays of Shakespeare. The
"religion of the border" (as my colleague James "Big Jim"
Griffith calls it) does not need, for example, the approval
of the Congregation for the Making of Saints to proclaim
their saints — just as Catholics did for a thousand years.

Sometimes those saints disturb us Celts. I have in my
possession (but never wear) a medallion of San Juan
Malverde, the patron of the narcotrafficantes. In Perez-
Reverte's great novel "The Queen of the South," the
protagonist prays fervently to both Malverde and Guadalupe
without any sense that there might be an inconsistency in
such devotions.

Go figure.

The project, as Latino Catholicism and North American
Catholicism absorb each other, is to retrieve some of the
fervor and enthusiasm and energy and, yes, the freedom of
Christians before the Council of Trent. From the fall of
Rome to the beginning of the 16th century, outside of the
monasteries and some of the cathedral cities and the
occasional feudal court, Christianity was more of a
religious culture than a formal church.

It was a mix of stories, songs, art, deep faith, angels and
saints, the Madonna, festivals, celebrations and local
devotions and customs, many of which might be thought today
to be superstitious. In times of economic and social chaos,
this was the best an illiterate population, often led by
only semiliterate clergy, could do.

In the later Middle Ages, a demand emerged for "reform,"
which meant organizing, regularizing and purifying this
religious "blooming, buzzing" culture. There was a Catholic
"reform" in England, for example, well before Henry VIII.
However, the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic
Counter-Reformation both strove to impose discipline, order
and orthodoxy on a recalcitrant peasant population.

The Council of Trent at the end of the 16th century made a
vigorous and systematic attempt, not always successful, to
transform popular religious culture into a church. Trent
was an utterly necessary turning point in Catholic history.

However, the Conquistadors left Spain before the Council.
Despite the efforts of the Jesuit and Franciscan
missionaries, Trent had little impact on Hispanic America.
The Church in the United States is mostly the post-Trent
Church; the Church in Latino America is mostly a pre-Trent

Despite what many Church leaders try to persuade
themselves, Vatican Council II was as dramatic a turning
point in Catholic history as was Trent. Among its many
achievements was the creation of a greater openness. Trent
was not repealed but merely adjusted to be more tolerant of

Hence, efforts of many parish priests (Latino and Irish —
some of them even Irish born!) to absorb the best of
Mexican American religion into American Catholicism are not
attempts to return to the religious chaos of the Middle
Ages. They are, rather, efforts to retrieve and integrate
into American Catholicism all that is good and true and
beautiful in Latino Catholicism, especially its joy, its
love of celebration, its delight in festival.

As I tell Latino students, rules are necessary, but
celebration and joy are more important — even for us Celts.
Our ancestors in the Middle Ages had one thing right: Jesus
had preached good news that demands celebration.

My opinion

Andrew M. Greeley

The Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, a Catholic priest, teaches at
the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona.
Contact him at


Booming Property Market Keeps Celtic Tiger Roaring

03/01/2007 - 19:01:37

Ireland’s still-booming property market is continuing to
fuel the Celtic Tiger economy, exchequer figures showed

Stamp duty and capital gains tax accounted for more than
half of the total €45.5bn in tax revenue during 2006,
Department of Finance officials said.

Economic forecasts contained in last year’s budget fell
short of the overall exchequer figures published tonight.

Department official Barra Ó Murchadha told a media
briefing: “We expected a slow-down in the property market
but it continued to boom.”

“We’re now talking about economic growth of about 6% in
2006, compared to forecasts of between 4.5% and 5%.”

Defending the shortfall in the forecasts, he added: “Our
job is to make predictions. That is what we do, and they
are published with the budget more than a year in advance.”

The Department of Finance said that an expanding labour
market due to increased immigration would also continue to
boost economic activity.

Up to €10bn from the remaining two thirds of SSIAs will
also mature in April and May and could boost consumer

The 2006 figures show an overall exchequer surplus of
€2.265bn for the year, compared to an exchequer deficit of
€499m in 2005.

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen claimed the nation’s debt
now represents less than 25% of national income, compared
to nearly 120% 20 years ago.

“These results confirm the prudent and far-sighted approach
being taken by the Government to planning the nation’s
finances,” a statement said .

Mr Cowen added that unparalleled economic growth since 1997
had helped improve public services and infrastructure,
eased the tax burden and provided for future pensions.

“We are now able to provide for exchequer expenditure on
Government services in 2007 in the region of €56bn,” he


Irish Becomes The 23rd Official Language Of EU

[Published: Wednesday 3, January 2007 - 09:33]
By David McKittrick

The Irish language has been given official status in
Europe, taking its place as the 23rd language of the
European Union. The move yesterday received curiously
little attention in the Republic of Ireland, given that the
language has at times been regarded as a semi-mystical part
of the national identity.

This may, however, have been due to the fact that, both in
Ireland and throughout Europe, the move had little or no
opposition, so that no controversy arose over the enhanced
status of the language.

It is very much in line with the EU philosophy of
encouraging linguistic diversity which, in addition to the
adoption of major languages, has led to the granting of
semi-official status to tongues such as Basque, Catalan and
Galician. Irish, also referred to as Gaelic, will not,
however, be on a par with languages such as English, French
and German. Europe's institutions will not, for example, be
required to translate all legislation into Irish.

The move will mean the creation of 29 new posts in
translation, revision and publication. These posts and the
hiring of interpreters, will cost around €3.5m a year.

Irish has so far been accorded the status of a treaty
language, which means it has been regarded as an authentic
text for treaties. As from 1 January, however, all key EU
legislation will be translated into Irish, with provisions
put in place so that Irish can be spoken at council

The possibility of further extending the use of Irish will
be formally reviewed in several years time.

The language is widely spoken in the Irish Republic, partly
because it retains its traditional status as a compulsory
part of the school curriculum. While the Irish have a
strong streak of internationalism, the language, though it
has had its ups and downs, is a familiar part of life. This
does not suit all school pupils, however, since Irish is a
difficult language to learn.

A census in 2002 indicated that 40 per cent of the
population can speak Irish, with more than a quarter
claiming to do so on a daily basis. A small number of
people, especially in the west of the country, regard it as
their first language while thousands of children attend
schools where they are taught in Irish.

Ironically, many more languages are to be heard in modern
Ireland due to the large-scale influx in recent years of
immigrants from countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania
and Estonia. There is a political consensus that the Irish
language should be promoted, though there are differences
about how much effort and money should be put into that

Since the south of Ireland obtained independence almost a
century ago, successive governments have treated the
language as emblematic of the country's identity and sought
to keep it alive.

A government minister said recently: "The fact that we have
almost 100,000 people throughout the country who speak
Irish on a daily basis outside of school, is undoubtedly
due to the constitutional, legal and practical protection
afforded to Irish in a post-independence society."

Last month the government unveiled a 20-year strategy
designed to promote a bilingual society "where as many
people as possible use both Irish and English with equal
ease". The objectives include continuing development of
Irish language broadcast services and aid for parents who
wish to educate their children through Irish.

The EU is also currently incorporating the Romanian and
Bulgarian languages into its services. In 2004 it adopted
nine new official languages, including Czech, Hungarian,
Polish, Slovak and Slovene.

© Belfast Telegraph


Former Senator Michael Yeats Dies, Aged 86

03 January 2007 23:07

The death has taken place of former Fianna Fáil Senator
Michael Yeats. He was 86.

Michael Yeats was the only son of the poet WB Yeats.

He served both as a Senator and as Cathaoirleach of the
Seanad, and was also one of Ireland's first members of the
European Parliament.

He wrote about his political career in the book 'Cast a
Cold Eye'.

Michael Yeats was involved in a number of events and
exhibitions concerning his father, and most recently
donated significant items from the Yeats archive to be
displayed at the ongoing Yeats exhibition at the National

Brian Crowley, leader of the Fianna Fáil group in the
European Parliament, has said that Michael Yeats was a
great supporter of Ireland.

He said Mr Yeats played a central role in the European
Union and that he was also a great supporter of increased
powers for the European Parliament.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said he was saddened to
learn of the death of Michael Yeats and offered his
sympathies to the Yeats family.


Sea Eagles Return To Ireland In 5-Year Killarney Project

Thu, Jan 04, 2007

Wildlife specialists are to attempt to reintroduce a
species of eagle that has been extinct in Ireland for more
than 100 years in one of the most ambitious wildlife
projects to be undertaken in the country in recent years,
writes Liam Reid.

The white-tailed or sea eagle, one of the largest birds of
prey in the world, is to be reintroduced into Killarney
National Park later this year as part of a five-year

The project will see 15 chicks a year being brought from
Norway, where they will be released into specific zones in
the park. It is hoped that after five to six years the
birds will begin to breed and will spread out across the
coast of Kerry and west Cork.

The project is being overseen by the National Parks and
Wildlife Service (NPWS) section under the Department of the
Environment and the Golden Eagle Trust, which has been
responsible for the highly successful reintroduction of
golden eagles from Scotland into Glenveagh National Park in
Co Donegal. There are now four pairs nesting in the

In recent months the project has been working closely with
Norwegian sea eagle experts who visited the southwest of

According to Eamonn Meskell, Munster regional manager of
the NPWS, the project team are "very confident" the sea
eagle can be reintroduced and that the terrain is perfect
habitat for the birds.

Wildlife expert Dr Allan Mee has been appointed to oversee
the project.

Similar projects in Scotland have been very successful.

The project was welcomed last night by Minister for the
Environment Dick Roche, who said it would help Ireland keep
its international commitments on biodiversity. "Apart from
the cultural benefits of having eagles back in Kerry, this
project will help to fulfil part of Ireland's commitment to
maintain and enhance our native wildlife under the
obligations of the Rio de Janeiro convention on

With a wingspan in excess of two metres, the birds feed
mainly on carrion and fish.

The bird became extinct in Ireland at the beginning of the
1900s due to egg collectors, and being shot as vermin by

The late taoiseach Charles Haughey made a failed attempt in
the 1990s to introduce a breeding pair of sea eagles to
Innisvickillane, his Blasket island off Co Kerry.

© 2007 The Irish Times

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