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)

February 20, 2007

British Need To Remove Inquiries Act Article 19

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 02/20/07 British Need To Remove Inquiries Act Article 19
SF 02/21/07 Welcome Removal Of The Rosemount Watch Tower
IT 02/20/07 Canvassing A Changed Portadown
SF 02/20/07 Cyber Launch Of SF's Assembly Election Website
IT 02/21/07 DUP Stance Must Be Tested, Says Durkan
IV 02/20/07 Pelosi Pledges Support To ILIR
IV 02/20/07 ILIR Testifies At Senate Hearings
IV 02/20/07 ILIR To Host Meeting In Dublin
IV 02/20/07 McCain To ILIR — Let’s Get It Done!
IT 02/21/07 Opin: Changing Times, But Obstacles Remain
IT 02/21/07 Opin: Dapper Doc Goes To Pull In The Votes
TE 02/21/07 Irish Should Respect God Save The Queen
IT 02/20/07 Flight Of Earls To Be Commemorated
CS 02/21/07 Book Rev: Parallel Lives In N Ireland


British Need To Remove Article 19 If They Are Serious About
Dealing With The Past

Published: 20 February, 2007

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Policing issue Gerry Kelly
today attended both the Policing the Future conference in
the Waterfront Hall and the collusion conference held to
coincide with it in the Hilton Hotel.

Speaking after the events Mr Kelly said:

"This morning I attended the conference entitled Policing
the Future in the Waterfront Hall. Given the title of this
conference I was disturbed to find that no space on the
agenda had been given over to discussing collusion. It was
for this reason that I intervened in the proceedings to
speak about the issue.. I also invited people present in
the hall to take the opportunity to attend the conference
in the nearby Hilton hotel organised by the families of
those killed through collusion. I am happy that a
substantial number of those present did make their way to
the other event.

"Geraldine Finucane when she addressed the large crowd
present made the point that to be able to move on we need
to know what went on. That is advice which the British
government need to heed. If the British government are
serious about dealing with the past then the first thing
that needs to happen is for them to remove Article 19 of
the Inquires Act and allow the inquiry into the murder of
Pat Finucane to proceed in the terms demanded by Judge
Corey. This is a simple test which will demonstrate clearly
how serious those within the British system actually are
about delivering for victims." ENDS


Welcome Removal Of The Rosemount Watch Tower - As Work

Published: 20 February, 2007

Sinn Fein Assembly candidate Martina Anderson has welcomed
the commencement of work to remove the Rosemount Watch

Ms Anderson said:

"The removal of Britain's war apparatus from our country
has been a key demand made by Sinn Fein throughout each
stage of our negotiations with the British government. In
recent times some significant progress has been made.

"I welcome the fact that work has now begun on removing
this watch tower. It's a great day for the people of
Rosemount who have campaigned long and hard for its

"This military post has been blight on this community for
too long. Local people will be glad to see the back of this
eyesore and those who spied on them from within it."

"Sinn Fein are determined to ensure that all British Army
forces are removed from our communities and lands stolen
and occupied be returned to their rightful owners or put to
community use." ENDS


Canvassing A Changed Portadown

Margaret Canning in Seapatrick, near Banbridge
Wed, Feb 21, 2007

Constituency profile: Upper Bann:A Lambeg drum sounds in
the distance as David Simpson, the Democratic Unionist MP
for Upper Bann, canvasses for the Assembly elections in a
loyalist estate near Banbridge in Co Down.

Against this recurrent comforting beat Mr Simpson says he
isn't taking any votes for granted in Upper Bann. He will
canvass everywhere and says he helps constituents of all
nationalities - Portadown is now home to almost 1,000
Portuguese and Polish workers - and faiths.

"Someone might come up to me and say: 'I'm a Roman
Catholic,' and I will say, that makes no difference. I'm
here to help everybody."

The Upper Bann town of Portadown where Mr Simpson was born
is infamous for the Drumcree dispute over whether members
of the Orange Order, like Mr Simpson, could walk down the
nationalist Garvaghy Road.

In a signal of changed times, camera crews and journalists
now travel to Portadown to document the fortunes of its
rising population of Polish and Portuguese workers.

Mr Simpson acknowledges he will be remembered for taking
the seat of Upper Bann from UUP leader Lord Trimble of
Lisnagarvey in 2005, but it wouldn't make a welcome

"There was a lot of hype about Upper Bann being the Battle
of the Davids but my battle will be in the next general
election when I'm being judged for what I've achieved in
the last 20 months [ as MP]."

Another thing the political fact-fan will remember Mr
Simpson for is being one of 12 signatories from the party -
the so-called Twelve Apostles - to a document insisting
that party leader Ian Paisley had not nominated himself as
first minister in the Assembly on November 24th last year.

But there's no dissension in the ranks as David and his
fellow DUP candidate John McCrum jr (known as "Junior") and
their workers amble through the estate, shoving party
leaflets into letterboxes and chatting to passersby.

"It's good exercise for him," one waggish party worker
pipes up, gesturing at Mr Simpson's comfortable build.

Mr Simpson says he's been hearing good things on the doors
about the party's strategy for sharing/not sharing power
with Sinn Fein.

"What I've been finding is that what people want is a
credible period [ of testing Sinn Fein's commitment to
peaceful methods]. People aren't opposed to power-sharing
per se."

What does concern voters, he says, is education, proposed
water rates - all the bread-and-butter issues.

One resident of the Seapatrick estate is outraged at the
prospect of paying for water rates and angry because he
says the DUP has done nothing to oppose it.

"But we're all over the local papers saying how we oppose
water rates," Mr Simpson says. "We oppose them day and

"It doesn't matter, as you have my vote anyway," the
resident adds as the discussion concludes.

NATIONALIST BATTLEGROUND:There have been predictions that a
third nationalist seat could be won in next month's
elections due to the growth in the nationalist population
in the area. The SDLP is fielding two candidates - sitting
Assembly member Dolores Kelly and her fellow Craigavon
councillor Patrick McAleenan. Sinn Fein is putting up
sitting member and Craigavon councillor John O'Dowd and
Banbridge councillor Desmond Ward. Although it's claimed
that Sinn Fein has its eye on the second Ulster Unionist
seat, some in the SDLP camp believe it is its existing seat
which is the focus of Sinn Fein efforts. Sinn Fein feels it
has spread itself through the constituency a bit more this
time, as Dessie Ward is a councillor on Banbridge District
Council. SDLP is hoping its voters will get out on polling
day as it blames the stay-at-homes for its poor showing in
Upper Bann in 2003.

The Republican Sinn Fein candidate, former prisoner Barry
Toman, is not expected to cause a serious dent in Sinn
Fein's vote.

UNIONIST BATTLEGROUND:Upper Bann became synonymous with
electoral upset in the general election of 2005 after the
DUP's David Simpson defeated Ulster Unionist leader David
Trimble, the constituency's MP for 15 years. Mr Trimble -
now Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey - resigned as party leader
after the humiliating blow and is not running in these
elections. His absence this year is expected to have an
impact on the unionist vote - Mr Trimble carried a
significant personal vote and it remains to be seen whether
his voters will stay at home, vote Ulster Unionist
nonetheless or vote DUP. The sitting Assembly member, UUP
Samuel Gardiner, is joined on the ticket by Arnold Hatch
and George Savage. Mr Savage was elected in 1998 but lost
in 2003. Sitting DUP Assembly members David Simpson and
Stephen Moutray are joined on their ticket by John McCrum
jnr, a councillor in the traditionally Ulster Unionist area
of Banbridge.

Two Independent candidates from the unionist community,
Suzanne Peeples and David Calvert, aren't expected to cause
any major upsets.

WILD CARDS:None, as small parties do not do well in Upper
Bann - in fact, the Portadown Times newspaper brands the
Conservatives and Green Party, who have put up David Fry
and Helen Corry respectively, "no-hopers".But the Alliance
Party believes the middle ground in Upper Bann, thin as it
may be, should have a voice. Its candidate is Sheila
McQuaid, whose husband Frank gained 571 votes in the
election of 2003.

Anti-agreement unionist candidate David Calvert has
attracted a supporter from the Democratic Unionists,
Craigavon councillor Mark Russell, who has left the party
to campaign for Mr Calvert.


*David Trimble UUP (21.1%)
Samuel Gardiner UUP (5.4%)
Stephen Moutray DUP (10.8%)
David Simpson MP DUP (13.6%)
John O'Dowd Sinn Fein (12.7%)
Dolores Kelly SDLP (8.4%)

* Denotes those also elected in 1998. Quota: 15 per cent.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Cyber Launch Of Sinn Fein's Assembly Election Website

Published: 20 February, 2007

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams will participate in a
cyber-launch of Sinn Fein's Assembly Election website on
Tuesday February 20th. The party has asked users of its
Sinn Fein News, Sinn Fein, Bebo, MySpace and YouTube
websites to email in questions to Gerry Adams at concerning the March 7th Assembly
election, the peace process and the role of the internet as
a grassroots communication tool.

A video of Mr Adams answering a number of the questions
will air on the new site - - at
5pm, today Tuesday 20th February.


DUP Stance Must Be Tested, Says Durkan

Gerry Moriarty
Wed, Feb 21, 2007

The British and Irish governments must "put it up" to the
DUP on March 26th by testing whether the party will enter
into a devolved powersharing Stormont administration,
according to the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan.

Mr Durkan, who launched the SDLP election campaign in the
Edge venue in Belfast yesterday, accused the DUP of trying
to "cook up a Plan C" as an alternative to the two existing
proposals: powersharing with Sinn Fein and the other main
parties, and the governments' "Plan B", a stronger role for
Dublin in the affairs of the North if there were no

"This proves that they don't take the governments' rhetoric
about devolution or dissolution on March 26th seriously.
They just hear it - and they sneer at it," he said. "We are
calling on the governments to end the games and devolve on
March 26th come what may. That would put it up to the DUP
to form an executive.

"But even if they don't and the Assembly is then dissolved,
at least we will be clear on who exactly is responsible.
That, at least, would end the uncertainty," Mr Durkan said.

He argued that devolution could not succeed with the DUP
and Sinn Fein determining politics in Northern Ireland.
"Left to themselves, the DUP and Sinn Fein can't make it
work," he said.

The SDLP is standing 35 candidates in the Assembly
elections, 14 of whom are women. It is contesting each of
the North's 18 constituencies. Mr Durkan predicted the
party would gain on the 18 seats won in the 2003 elections.
He indicated the party was aiming for a first seat in
Strangford, and an additional seat in Newry and Armagh.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Pelosi Pledges Support To ILIR

By Mary Donovan

More than 1,500 Irish Americans packed into the United
Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco last Thursday at a
mega rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform,
with another 150 signing up for the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform's March 7 rally in Washington, D.C.

The massive crowd heard a ringing endorsement from House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi via a message from her office which
said she was looking forward to seeing ILIR members in the
nation's capital on March 7.

Pelosi's immigration staffer Harriet Ishimoto said the
speaker considered immigration reform a priority and that
it could not succeed without ILIR's efforts.

Ishimoto also told the crowd that Speaker Pelosi was making
the resources of both her D.C. and San Francisco offices
available to ILIR volunteers.

Last week's rally was organized by the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform in conjunction with the Irish Pastoral
Center (IPC) in San Francisco. IPC executive director
Celine Kennelly said it was the biggest event the venue had
hosted in decades.

The rally was opened by the Irish American Mayor of San
Francisco Gavin Newsom, who pledged his support to the
Irish. Rally organizers were thrilled that Newsom,
embroiled in a political crisis over an extramarital
affair, did not let them down on the night. He happily
pulled on the "Legalize the Irish" T-shirt and posed for
photographs with the crowd.

There was a huge media presence at the rally with
representatives from the Los Angeles Times, the San
Francisco Chronicle, and Ireland's national TV and radio
networks, RTE and TG4.

The huge crowd began arriving at 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. kick-
off. One young couple, who had driven in from San Jose for
the rally, said they were at their wits' ends. Mary and
Patrick, who are the parents of two young children, said
they were running out of time. "We've been here for nine
years now and we have two children who are both at school
here. I can't drive them to and from school anymore because
I can't renew my driving license," Mary said.

Pointing to her husband, she added, "Pat's built up a small
plumbing business, he's got four people working full time
for him, pays all his taxes and everyone thinks we're
legal. I don't know what we're going to do if this doesn't

Mary and Pat have already booked their flights to D.C. and
are bringing their children with them. "We have to take a
stand on this," said Pat. "At least we'll be able to tell
the kids we did our best to fight for them. It would break
their hearts to leave their friends at school here. It's
all they've ever known."

However, like everyone else in the crowd, they took great
heart from what they heard. Speaker after speaker
reiterated how important San Francisco was in the political
campaign and urged everyone to let Speaker Pelosi, the
congressional representative for the area, know the Irish
wanted change.

Local council member Fiona Ma passed up an engagement in
Sacramento to speak at the rally. She said it was vitally
important that the San Francisco Irish continued to make
their voices heard. "Believe me," she said, "your calls are
on not falling on deaf ears."

Ma also announced that the normally fractious city council
in San Francisco (Board of Supervisors) had joined with
Newsom in passing a resolution in favor of comprehensive
immigration reform and supporting the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform campaign.

San Francisco's Irish Consul General Emer Deane made an
impassioned appeal to the Irish to keep faith with the
battle and reiterated the Irish government's support for

Bart Murphy, the chairman of the Coalition of Irish
Immigration Centers, slammed those who said the Irish were
looking for a special deal, instead likening the Irish
effort to Thomas the Tank Engine.

"Contrary to the comments of some naysayers, the Irish are
not looking for a special deal in this campaign. We are
leveraging our national experience of over 200 years of
immigration for the benefit of all immigrant groups in the
U.S. Like Thomas the Tank, we just happen to be the useful
engine of this particular train," Murphy said. This was a
common refrain for the night as every speaker described the
need for comprehensive immigration reform.

ILIR Vice Chairman Ciaran Staunton said, "We're all in this
together. We're taking this battle to Congress on behalf of
all immigrants. No matter where you came from - Guatemala
or Gort in Mayo or Mexico, Tralee or Tegucigalpa - we're
all immigrants and we're all in this together. When you
attack one immigrant community, you attack us all." Faced
with a sea of t-shirts in the crowds, ILIR Executive
Director Kelly Fincham said, "Every one of you wearing your
Legalize the Irish t-shirt tonight represents every one of
the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
Their battle is our battle."

Describing the long shared history of Irish America, Angus
McCarthy told the crowd how he had also been illegal in the
1980s and won his green card in a lottery. Now an immigrant
rights commissioner in San Francisco, McCarthy said, "I was
a beneficiary in the late 1980s and I am very grateful for
the work that was done then. I'm here because I believe
that we Irish don't pull the ladder up behind us."

Speaking after the rally, Kennelly confirmed that over 150
people were booked on red-eye flights for the 3,000-mile
trek to D.C. on March 7. "This is what it's all about -
let's get out there and make a difference," she said.


ILIR Testifies At Senate Hearings

By Georgina Brennan

IN a spectacular turn of events, Republican Senator Jeff
Sessions of Alabama, notoriously hesitant to pass any guest
worker bill without first securing the border, told the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) at Senate
immigration hearings last week that there was something
wrong in the Senate bill because it did not fix the problem
of Irish immigration restrictions.

"The ancestors of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could
not legally come to this country and out of one million
visas, only 2,000 went to the Irish. Why? How can I fix
that?" he asked, reddening as he leaned over his podium.

"There is nothing in the Senate bill that fixes that. How
can I fix that, tell me, how can I fix that?" he asked ILIR
founder and Chairman Niall O'Dowd.

O'Dowd, joined by 35 ILIR volunteers who traveled on an
early hour bus journey to Washington from Connecticut and
New York, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee
last week on the endangered species of the Irish in America
because of tough immigration laws.

Both chambers, the Senate and the House, have held
competing hearings this summer around the country and in
Washington, D.C. At every one there is the presence of the
white t-shirts emblazoned with the words "Legalize the

Last week O'Dowd joined Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutie-
rrez, representing the Bush administration in testimony, to
speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee on why
comprehensive immigration reform needs to happen now.

"The facts are clear to us. Without immigration reform the
Irish-born community in the United States will no longer
exist and one of the greatest contributors to the success
of this nation will be no more," said a grim O'Dowd before
the hearing committee.

Speaking eloquently but pulling no punches, O'Dowd laid out
the bare facts. "Our neighborhoods are disappearing, our
community organizations are in steep decline. Our sporting
and cultural organizations are deeply affected by the lack
of emigration.

"Meanwhile, our un-documented community is under siege.
They can no longer travel to Ireland, even when family
tragedies occur. Their driver's licenses will not be
renewed which means mothers cannot drive their children to
school. The day-to-day struggle of living illegally in
America has taken a heavy personal toll on them.

"I submit that they deserve better. Every-thing they have
worked years for in America, building their own American
dream is now falling around them, and I submit that America
will be the big loser."

O'Dowd described how scores of Irish men and women toiled
through the rubble in the aftermath of the World Trade
Center attacks and were never asked about their status.

"They did no more than previous Irish generations. As
President Bush has stated, 'Throughout our history America
has been greatly blessed by the innumerable contributions
of the Irish.' Unfortunately the contribution of Irish-born
may be about to end. The sad reality is that there is
simply no way for the overwhelming majority of Irish people
to come to the United States legally at present.

"So when people say to me that the Irish should get in line
to come here, I tell them there is no line we can join, no
way the vast majority of our people can come legally to
America. Such realities, however, have not stopped
thousands of Irish doing what generations of Irish have
done since they served in George Washington's army - coming
to America and living the American dream like generations
before them."

O'Dowd told the harrowing stories of undocumented people
whose lives have been turned upside down as they have been
stripped of their ability to travel, drive and many basic
rights. To the hushed room, O'Dowd's words hung heavy in
the air. But he was not alone is telling truths.

Gutierrez, the former Kellogg cereal chairman who emigrated
from Cuba at age seven, said President Bush is committed to
comprehensive reform and that tougher enforcement will fail
without expanding legal programs for low-skilled workers to
enter the country.

"An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive
because all elements of this problem must be addressed
together, or none of them will be solved at all," Gutierrez

"How do we execute comprehensive reform? That execution can
take on a lot of different avenues, but it needs to be
comprehensive reform. The president has called for
comprehensive reform that includes protecting our borders
and recognizing the needs of our growing economy."

He argued that new immigrants give the U.S. "a tremendous
competitive advantage" over industrialized countries in
Europe and Japan that have aging and declining populations
and little experience assimilating immigrants.

"Immigrants aren't crossing our borders to look for a
handout. They're seeking jobs that are available,"
Gutierrez said.

"More than 500 of our nation's top economists recently sent
a letter to President Bush and Congress stating that
immigration has been a net gain for American citizens. And
two-thirds of American voters say they support bills that
include a temporary worker program or path to citizenship,
rather than one that focuses solely on border security."

Gutierrez said this year the only thing politicians needed
was good dialogue.

"What we need now is leadership and reasonable compromise
in the middle. An immigration reform bill needs to be
comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be
addressed together, or none of them will be solved at all,"
he said.

Chairing the hearing, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of
Pennsyl-vania, suggested that criticism of illegal
immigration has taken on a xenophobic cast. Specter
mentioned the Irish and the Polish and every other new wave
that was at first shunned and now forms the fabric of

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy first made mention of
the by now familiar sight of Legalize the Irish t-shirts at
the hearing and complained about the real lack of good
dialogue on the issue, reading aloud the loaded title of
one of this weeks hearings which will ask whether the
Senate's amnesty provisions repeat the mistakes of the

"This is what we're faced with in trying to have a
legitimate dialogue and debate," Kennedy said.

In the rapid-fire questions and answers that followed his
testimony, O'Dowd was asked by the attending senators what
ILIR wanted.

"I want for the Irish what every other country has, visas.
We don't want to take visas from anyone else, we just want
to be able to come to this country legally to continue the
Irish American legacy," he said.

And then Sessions asked him how to fix the Irish problem.
Sessions has in the past been credited with such statements
as, "I do not believe we should award people who have
entered our country illegally, submitted a false Social
Security number, worked illegally." But Sessions was
thrilled to shake the hands of the ILIR volunteers and
offered to help them in their fight for legalization.

"What a change you are making to the minds of the top
leaders here in Washington," said one Capitol. Hill staffer
to the ILIR volunteers. "I overheard two extremely high up
House members talking about how the Irish are affecting the
role of changing the minds of so many in Washington and how
no matter what hearings are on, they turn up in busloads."

Despite the last minute scheduling of hearings on the
immigration debate, the ILIR volunteers are determined to
dispatch buses to attend every hearing on the issue.

"Because the Legalize the Irish t-shirts have been seen at
all the hearings and we've done interviews and educated
people as to just how difficult it is to get a visa with
the current immigration system in the United States, the
hearings are turning into an opportunity to change minds,"
said undocumented immigrant Nina.

Damien Halpen, 43, a plumber from Dublin who has lived in
America for 15 years, says the best part about the ILIR
road tour to attend every hearing is that the volunteers
always have a good time.

"I love it, all of this. And I say to Senator Sessions, I
want you to fix this. There should be visas for the Irish
to come out to America. We don't have a criminal problem,
we all work. We just want to be legal so we can live our
good lives," he said.

Later, as the weary delegates piled onto their bus for the
ride back home, faces around the Capitol nodded their
greetings to the group and the volunteers decided there was
only one thing they hadn't done on their lobbying trips to
D.C. - take a picture outside the White House.

So, just before heavy rain started, the group posed outside
the building, joking that President Bush was probably
watching them from his office window. "Next time, he might
invite us in," said Seamus Ryan.


ILIR To Host Meeting In Dublin

By April Drew

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) will host a
meeting in Dublin on Saturday, April 14 to create an
opportunity for Irish families and friends to get involved
in the fight for legal status for the estimated 50,000
undocumented Irish in the U.S.

The meeting will be held in the ballroom in Jurys Hotel in
Ballsbridge from 1-4 p.m. Jurys is located across from the
American Embassy.

Niall O'Dowd, founder and chairman of ILIR, considers it
imperative to inform and include Irish families in the
lobbying process to achieve legal status for their loved

"We think it is very important that parents and friends
understand the complexity of the issue so they can do
whatever is necessary to help their family members who are
undocumented in the U.S.," said O' Dowd.

"Anyone who attended our packed rally in San Francisco last
week realizes this is a hot button issue for thousands of
Irish. They deserve to have their families informed of what
we are trying to achieve."

"We have had repeated requests from parents and families to
get involved so now we will certainly try and do so," he
added. O'Dowd and other ILIR leaders will address the
meeting, which has already received a tremendous response
in Ireland.

Some families are preparing to make a weekend of it. Others
will travel up and down in the same day.

Jimmy Ryan, a parent from Co. Limerick whose son has been
in the U.S. for three years, is all geared up for the trip
to Dublin. "Myself and my wife will get the train up the
morning and then we can get the last one home," said Ryan,
who told the Irish Voice that he has been eager to do
something for a while but has always felt helpless.

"I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. My son has been
living in the shadows for three years and it's time I as a
parent did something to help him," said Ryan, who hopes the
meeting will help crate a group in Ireland that will work
with ILIR in the U.S. to get the job done.

Dublin native Deirdre Foy, now living in Queens, spoke with
her family and was promised that 10 members would go to the
meeting in Dublin to support her.

"I spoke with my family yesterday and I was informed three
of my aunts and my cousins will also be there," said Foy,
who said she "laid it on thick" since her family are living
in Clontarf, only three miles outside the Capitol.

The decision to hold the meeting across the Atlantic
stemmed from several requests from family members of
undocumented to know what they could do at their end to
ensure legal status for their sons or daughters.

"ILIR has always been an inclusive organization and we
understand the need for parents to be involved. We know the
trauma every family suffers at the sight of an empty chair
at family functions like weddings, funerals, birthdays and
the desire they have for their children to be present,"
O'Dowd said.

"Now they can play a significant role in creating an issue
of this in Ireland at a vital time of importance for Irish
immigrants as the immigration debate comes front and center
in America."

The Dublin meeting has received great support from Irish
institutions such as the Catholic Church. O'Dowd is hopeful
that more will come on board and support ILIR.

"We have had tremendous support from politicians of all
parties and we believe there is a huge informational gap we
must fill for these families. We will be hoping to create a
new working group in Ireland which will work with us in the
critical six months ahead," he said.

Discussions are also set to take place with the Catholic
Church, which has an Irish abroad group which deals with
the issue.

For more information on the event call 718-598-7530.


McCain To ILIR - Let's Get It Done!

By Debbie McGoldrick

SENATOR John McCain electrified an audience of more than
2,000 at an Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) town
hall meeting in the Bronx last Friday, and expressed a
strong belief that Congress will soon find common ground on
a way to legalize a majority of the estimated 11 million
undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

McCain, the Arizona Republican who is working in tandem
with Democratic colleague Senator Edward Kennedy to win
approval for a strong version of their McCain/ Kennedy
reform bill in the Senate this week, also stressed that the
recent pro-immigration rallies in the U.S. are having a
significant impact on the shape of the debate on Capitol

"With the kind of demonstrations taking place across
America I think we will have a bill for President Bush to
sign very soon," McCain said to wild rounds of applause at
St. Barnabas church in the Irish enclave of Woodlawn. "The
American people are yearning for those of us in Washington
to reach across the aisle and act in the best interests of
the nation on this issue, instead of fighting about it.

The McCain meeting was another triumphant outing for ILIR
and its committed, thousands-strong membership, many of
whom were wearing the group's "Legalize the Irish" t-shirts
on the night.

Formed four months ago by Irish Voice publisher Niall
O'Dowd and community activist Ciaran Staunton, ILIR's
impact on the national immigration debate has been
substantial, a fact that McCain acknow-ledged during his

"So many of you have taken so much time and effort,
including the 3,000 of you who traveled to Washington, D.C.
last month, and you are being heard," McCain said,
referring to the ILIR rally on Capitol Hill on March 8.
McCain spoke at the event, and was so impressed by the
group's efforts that his staffers immediately contacted
ILIR to arrange a meeting in the Bronx.

The senator entered St. Barnabas to the theme music from
the film Rocky, and the crowd was pumped, giving him a
boisterous standing ovation that lasted several minutes and
also included chants of "Ole, Ole, Ole" and the Irish
signature song, "The Fields of Athenry."

McCain's words of hope were music to the ears of those in
attendance, many of whom stand to benefit from the
temporary worker provision in the McCain/Kennedy bill that
would grant legal status to qualified undocumented in the
U.S. prior to January of 2004. The bill will likely be
voted on by the full Senate at the end of this week, and if
approved will have to be reconciled with a House measure
that deals only with border enforcement and increased

The Senate is leaning towards approval of a temporary
worker program, and McCain said he is determined to protect
its inclusion when the House/Senate conference on the issue
commences after the Senate vote.

"Both parties will be at the conference, but Senator
Kennedy and I worry about these things," he said. "Strange
things can sometimes happen at conference. We might insist
that it be an open conference so that all the deliberations
are known."

A front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008,
McCain had words of praise for President George W. Bush,
who has forcefully expressed his desire for Congress to
offer legal status to qualified undocumented workers.

One of the questions McCain fielded after his remarks came
from a man who asked if President Bush had spent all his
political capital on the war in Iraq, thus making his
thoughts on immigration reform irrelevant.

"I think he has capital left," McCain replied. "President
Bush was governor of the state of Texas and he is familiar
with this issue. There is a segment (in Washington) that is
opposed to reform. He is not, and he is standing up for

The efforts to block the creation of a guest worker program
for the undocumented in favor of border and security
measures only are being spearheaded primarily by members of
McCain's Republican Party in both the House and Senate. He
admitted the difference of opinion in the GOP is strong.

"I'm concerned about the future of the Republican Party,
but I'm more concerned about the future of the nation, and
what kind of a nation we are going to be," McCain said.

"I think we're going through a great debate in the party.
But I think we can build consensus on this issue. The wind
is at our backs. I'm optimistic. I encourage discussion in
any party."

One of the questioners asked McCain about Congressman Peter
King, co-sponsor of the House bill that would also turn the
undocumented into felons, and those who aid them.

King and McCain are long-time political allies; King was
one of the first to lend support to McCain's campaign for
the presidency in 2000. The Long Island representative has
been a steadfast supporter of all Irish issues during his
time in Congress, but has parted ways when it comes to
immigration reform.

"Peter is a fine man and a fine representative," McCain
said of King, who was elected chairman of the House
Homeland Security Committee last year. "I think the people
in this room ought to provide him with a better education
on the matter."

McCain's words for Congressman Tom Tancredo, Republican of
Colorado who is a strident opponent of offering any type of
legalization to the undocumented, were far less friendly.
"I don't usually respond to him," McCain said, "but what
would I say to him? Well, come on in, the water's fine!"

Throughout the meeting, McCain stressed the impossibility
of physically seeking out 11 million undocumented residents
and deporting them. "I would like someone to explain to me
how that could be done," he said.

"Some believe we should round them up and send them back. I
don't know how you do that, and I don't know why you'd want
to. Of course, post-September 11 America must enforce its
borders, and protect against people who want to come here
to do us harm.

"But (the undocumented) have grasped the lowest rung of our
ladder. They want to rise, and we should let them. Let them
come out of the shadows, pay a fine, stay employed, pay
taxes, and earn their citizenship. We all will be the
better for it."

McCain, a member of the Senate since 1986, said the current
immigration debate is unlike anything he has ever seen in
his vast political career.

"It's really something else," he stated. "Senator Mel
Martinez from Florida said to me that this issue has
galvanized his state in a way he has never seen in his
life. We've never seen anything quite like this. There were
200,000 people demonstrating in Phoenix, and the sheriff in
LA told me the march there attracted close to 750,000
people. We've never seen this kind of active participation
in the process.

"I know that sooner or later we will prevail. In the
meantime, how many people suffer in the shadows? Every day
someone is being abused or mistreated. That's not what
America is supposed to be all about."

The problem of illegal immigration is particularly acute in
Arizona, McCain said, where border crossings often have
deadly consequences.

"Last fiscal year 410 people died in the desert of Arizona.
They died trying to come here to have a better life," he
said. "One of those dead was a two year old girl. Another
died with a rosary in her hand. There's a humanitarian side
of this issue that we really do need to keep in mind."

The audience, looking for direction in the crucial days
ahead, was advised by McCain to apply political pressure
now more than ever. New York Senators Charles Schumer and
Hillary Clinton support immigration reform efforts, but he
advised that people should call friends and family members
in other states.

"You all know people all over the country. Get them to find
out how members of the Senate stand on this issue in their
state," McCain said.

"If they're on the wrong side call and ask them to change,
and if they're on the right side call and say thanks. There
is nothing our large egos like better than words of thanks.

"And next time you hear discussion about the issue (in the
media), call in and speak up. When you explain to the
American people the idea of earning citizenship, with the
first priority enforcing borders, they understand."

McCain vowed that he would keep working with Kennedy to
clear a path towards legalization for the undocumented no
matter how long it takes. One audience member asked if
McCain would be willing to team again with Kennedy next
year if the current Senate push to enact reform fails.

"As long as he's still alive!" McCain said to laughter. "We
do enjoy each other's company."

But McCain is far from giving up the fight this time
around. "(This week) is a critical one. If we can get the
bill through before we leave (for a two-week recess) that
will be a major achievement," he feels.

The meeting's serious business was offset by several
lighthearted moments in addition to the aforementioned
Kennedy one. A member of the audience told McCain that a
runway was built in Donegal for him should he ever decide
to visit on his way to a presidential run.

"If I do decide to run I will call on you for assistance!"
McCain replied. "You know, after I lost in the primaries
(in 2000) I slept like a baby. I'd sleep two hours and wake
up crying, sleep two hours and cry."

Boxer John Duddy, the New York-based middleweight contender
from Co. Derry, was given a huge cheer when he rose to ask
a question. McCain shook his hand and shared a story of his
time spent in the squared circle.

"I was a mediocre boxer. I was able to observe the lights
from a prone position," he said.

And is the all-important bill Kennedy/McCain, or
McCain/Kennedy? "We'll call it McCain/Kennedy tonight,"
ILIR Chairman O'Dowd laughed, with nods of approval from a
smiling McCain.

The meeting was attended by a number of political and Irish
community leaders, including Congressman Eliot Engel, Irish
Consul General Tim O'Connor, Irish Embassy First Secretary
Joe Hackett, Wall Street Access chairman and CEO Denis
Kelleher and New York GAA Chairman Seamus Dooley. ILIR
hosted a private reception where they had the chance to
meet McCain, who was accompanied by his daughter Megan,
before the meeting.


Opin: Changing Times, But Obstacles Remain

Wed, Feb 21, 2007

Policing remains a potential political timebomb for Sinn
Fein, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor.

Senior Sinn Fein politicians Gerry Kelly and Raymond
McCartney, two former IRA prisoners, turned up yesterday at
the Belfast international conference on policing in another
sign of the changing times in Northern Ireland.

Their attendance at the prestigious conference hosted by
the North's policing board sends a positive signal about
the political and policing future.

However, as a recent election exchange on BBC Radio
Ulster's Talkback programme made clear, there are still
obstacles to be overcome before the policing issue is fully

A caller to the programme, broadcast from Enniskillen,
asked what should he do if he saw a group of "disaffected
Provisionals or even a smaller republican group with guns".
He wondered: "Do I contact the RUC [ sic], or do I turn a
blind eye?"

"I can't tell anybody what to do on that point," said Sinn
Fein MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew,
prompting "disaffected Provisional" and anti-deal candidate
in the constituency Gerry McGeough to interject, "Answer
the questions . . . if there are guns, does he report to
the British crown forces?"

"I personally wouldn't," said Ms Gildernew, adding, "but I
am working very hard to ensure those guns are never used
again . . ."

Whatever about the qualification, it was the "I personally
wouldn't" that made the impact. It caused outgoing local
DUP Assembly member Arlene Foster, also on the Enniskillen
panel, to expostulate: "There we are, we don't support the
police, we do support the police. Which is it?"

Now Foster would be on the "yes" wing of the DUP party - if
we can use that curious phrase in relation to the
Democratic Unionists - but you could sense her

Gildernew's remark is the type of comment that anti-deal
DUP people such as Jim Allister and William McCrea will
seize upon to argue that powersharing by the March 26th St
Andrews deadline is unrealisable.

You don't want to be flippant about such a serious issue
but, say, it was a group of heavily-armed "disaffected
Provisionals" parading through west Belfast en route to
attack the PSNI station on the Grosvenor Road - what then?
Does she report? The joke in Belfast is that she wouldn't
need to because "disaffected Provisional" informers would
already have touted to the cops about the planned attack.

But there's a potential political timebomb here. Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness are urging nationalists to
support the PSNI, and to report ordinary crime to the
police. They have also encouraged nationalists to join the

What then if our brave band of "disaffected Provisionals"
is about to attack police officers who just joined the PSNI
- stationed in Grosvenor Road - on the Sinn Fein
leadership's recommendation?

Now to some that scenario may appear bordering on the
surreal, but it's not simply academic: the Continuity IRA
and Real IRA view police officers as "legitimate targets"
and would, if they could, attack and kill them.

During the scores of republican policing debates ahead of
the Sinn Fein ardfheis to endorse the PSNI, Gerry Adams,
Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly almost casually swatted
away such pharisaical questions, of the type posed on
Talkback, with the rebuttal to the dissidents: "You're
going nowhere. Catch yourselves on. We are the only people
who can truly deliver for republicanism."

Perhaps Gildernew lacked the political savvy of Adams and
McGuinness to out-manoeuvre her questioners. Nonetheless,
whether or not Sinn Fein support for the PSNI is
conditional remains a genuinely tricky matter for the Sinn
Fein leaders and they need to figure out the answer if
there is to be a chance of powersharing on March 26th.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: Dapper Doc Goes 'On The Batter' To Pull In The Votes

Wed, Feb 21, 2007

Only two weeks to go in the Northern Ireland Assembly
election, and the frenzy of indifference is deafening,
writes Miriam Lordin Lisburn.

Understandable, perhaps, in the South, where the main
preoccupation lies with a general election which still has
about three months of life left in it. But so far in the
North, the campaign for the 108 Stormont seats on offer has
yet to ignite.

This might explain why a daft photo opportunity yesterday
involving Dr Ian Paisley and a couple of pancakes attracted
four camera crews, reporters from as far afield as France
and Germany and the sort of attention normally reserved for
more meaningful political events.

Neither the Doc nor his DUP team were complaining. They
were chuffed with the publicity generated by their leader's
morning walkabout in Lisburn and the afternoon's bout of
crepe flipping in Ballymena.

The fun began in MP Jeffrey Donaldson's Lagan Valley
constituency - once an Ulster Unionist stronghold, but now
DUP territory following a stream of defections led by
Donaldson and the demolition of David Trimble and UUP in
the last election.

It was market day in the town, and the four-strong team of
Lagan Valley candidates were joined by Big Ian and Peter
Robinson for an hour-long walkabout in the main shopping
area. Before they set off from party headquarters, there
was some rather baffling banter between Jeffrey and Peter
about the merits of cross-dressing. Not the sort of talk,
one would imagine, that the Rev Dr Paisley would be anxious
to encourage.

The afternoon's Belfast Telegraph shed light on the
mystery, reporting that the DUP had to switch location for
a press conference last week when it was discovered that a
cross-dressers' conference was taking place in the same

Dr Paisley arrived from a visit to a nearby factory, and
the office ladies appeared with tea in china cups. Then the
candidates and their visiting heavyweights set off towards
the market square.

The dapper Doc - that's what the younger party workers call
him - moved off at a stately pace, black brogues gleaming,
smart grey overcoat over an immaculate grey suit. After a
few minutes, a man raced down the road from the office
bearing his black felt fedora. The ensemble, and the image,
was complete.

There is a DUP uniform. The younger the man, the wider the
pinstripe on the conservative navy suit. It's the Savile
Row meets Sandy Row look. Hair is neat, gelled and spiked.
Ald Edwin Poots and Cllr Paul Givan were thus attired.

Cllr Jonathan Craig, as befits the more mature DUP man,
wore Paisley grey. Wee Jeffrey, the big local vote winner,
could afford to be a little more casual.

It was a sedate walkabout, in deference to Dr Paisley's
advancing years. He's a huge hit with the female
pensioners. "Get up early and get your vote out, and take
your porridge before you go!" he instructs them.

Now in his early 80s, Big Ian still cuts an impressive
figure. Two elderly ladies twittered with embarrassment
when he approached. "I don't want me photograph took,"
giggled one.

"Oh, you better be taken with a good-looking man," boomed
Dr Paisley, grabbing her hand.

The ladies revelled in their mortification. "I couldn't get
me glove off in time!" said one.

All was going to plan when they arrived at the market
square. Suddenly, a security man began speaking urgently
into his walkie-talkie. A raised voice could be heard in
the distance, and a tall, silver-haired man materialised
from behind the fish stalls. "Hello, Ian Paisley. Ian. Stop
running away from me!" It was the UKUP's Robert McCartney,
smiling broadly, shouting loudly and sniping from the

Peter Robinson moved in beside his leader and placed a hand
on his arm. "Ian, bear left," he barked, and the reverend
doctor changed course smoothly, staring straight ahead.

The party workers shouted back. "You're a vote splitter!"
"Never, Never, Never. Yes, Yes, Yes." taunted Bob, who is
standing in six constituencies.

"Maverick! Maverick!" retorted the DUP boys.

It was all over in a flash. Bob McCartney, having made his
point and snaffled some publicity, withdrew.

This was the DUP in a new electoral situation, where the
buzz word is "progress", where they aren't protesting or
noisily foisting their indignation on the mainstream. They
are the mainstream now. Their campaign is more measured,
and, the reporters sadly sigh, as boring as the rest.

After the polls close on March 7th, it is expected the DUP
will consolidate its position as the voice of unionism.
These days, an avuncular Ian is reduced to cheery photo
opportunities with old ladies and funny props.

Which is where the Galgorm Manor Hotel in Ballymena comes
in. In the afternoon, he availed of their new kitchen to
flip pancakes. "Why is he doing this?" asked a nonplussed
German journalist. Nobody really knew, apart from the fact
it was Shrove Tuesday, and the hotel is in Dr Paisley's
North Antrim constituency.

With his bemused media pack in tow, Big Ian stood in front
of the stove and got a quick lesson in pancake flipping. He
looked a little lost. Not for the first time in his career,
he flipped. This time, though, it was harmless. "High in
the air," pleaded the photographers.

Dr Paisley said little of substance. He has no intention of
rattling any more pans until the votes are in.

c 2007 The Irish Times


O'Sullivan Implores Irish Fans To Respect 'God Save The

By Brendan Gallagher in Dublin
Last Updated: 1:48am GMT 21/02/2007

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan made an impassioned plea
yesterday to all Irish fans to respect England's National
Anthem at Croke Park on Saturday night as the emotional
temperature began to rise significantly ahead of the two
sides' historic first meeting at the Gaelic Athletic
Association citadel.

Viva voce: The England team will be expecting a fervent
reception at Croke Park

O'Sullivan's comments came on the day a Republican splinter
group - Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) - confirmed they intend
to mount a protest at Croke Park and a prominent GAA
member, J J Barrett, withdrew his father's medals in
disgust from the GAA Museum at Croke at the prospect of God
Save The Queen being played.

The ground was the setting for Bloody Sunday in 1920 when
14 Irish citizens were shot dead by British soldiers and
earlier the GAA had rejected an offer by the British
Government, in the form of Northern Ireland secretary Peter
Hain, to lay a wreath in their memory, saying that it was
inappropriate on such a sporting occasion.

But O'Sullivan, who yesterday announced the return of
captain Brian O'Driscoll for the eagerly awaited game,
said: ''Our anthem of choice has always been respected
around the world and I would hope that would be
reciprocated. Britain's National Anthem was played at the
Special Olympics at Croke Park three years ago and there
was no issue then.

''People can have opinions and express them passionately
and fervently - it's called free speech - but when it comes
to sport, the one thing you can say about Irish supporters
over the last 20 years is that they are probably the best
and most positive in the world. I am sure they will embrace
the occasion and that's really important for the Ireland
team. When they run on to the pitch against England, they
want the roof to come off the stadium and a massive surge
of energy to feed off. The team don't want negativity.

The major disappointment against France was
that we couldn't deliver a win in front of such a fantastic

O'Sullivan is right in thinking that the crowd have a part
to play in picking up the Ireland team after the most
painful defeat of his reign as coach. "They were in bits
after the game, completely on the floor but you can't
unring a bell,'' he said. ''What's done is done. This is
the pivotal game of our season now. Win and we still aim
for the championship and the Triple Crown, lose and we will
be fighting for a position among the also-rans.

''England are in a good place, as I expected them to be
after their first two games. They are building momentum and
have some big-match players back. The game against Italy
was probably a reality check but people consistently
underestimate Italy.''

The return of O'Driscoll is key for Ireland, as it would be
for any team in which he plays. He only just missed out a
fortnight ago and has been straining at the leash ever
since. ''Brian is the guy who consolidates the entire team
and knits things together," his fellow centre Gordon D'Arcy
said. "It always gives everybody a lift when's he's

O'Driscoll, who has helped Ireland to three consecutive
wins over the world champions since 2003, slots back in
alongside D'Arcy with Shane Hogan reverting to the wing in
place of Geordan Murphy, who drops out of the squad
altogether after a mixed display against the French.

''I enjoyed the French game for 78 minutes," O'Driscoll
said. "We were doing the right things to win even after
giving them such a flying start, but in the end it wasn't
to be. What more can you say? Now it's England and another
huge occasion and a chance to get our Six Nations campaign
back on track."

The prognosis on Peter Stringer is more encouraging than it
was this time last week - the broken hand didn't begin to
heal as quickly as was hoped - but O'Sullivan is not going
to delay making a final decision beyond Thursday.

The Munster scrum-half has been working hard on his fitness
but has still not involved himself in any contact work.
Isaac Boss, who did nothing wrong and much good against the
French, stands by and should prepare himself mentally for a
starting role.

Meanwhile the radio phone-ins were buzzing all day in
Dublin with the anthems issue and a compromise solution may
have been stumbled upon by Patrick O'Byrne, from Dublin 7,
who suggested that "diehard Anglophobes can always grit
their teeth, close their eyes... and think of Helen

Team details

Ireland: G Demspey; S Horgan (both Leinster), B O'Driscoll
(Leinster, capt), G Darcy, D Hickie (Leinster); R O'Gara, P
Stringer; M Horan (all Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes,
D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (all Munster), S Easterby
(Llanelli), D Wallace, D Leamy (Munster).

Substitutes: J Flannery (Munster), S Best (Ulster), M
O'Driscoll (Munster), N Best (Ulster), E Reddan (Wasps), P
Wallace (Ulster).


Flight Of Earls To Be Commemorated

Tue, Feb 20, 2007

Ceremonies to mark the 400th anniversary of the Flight of
the Earls will be announced tomorrow, it emerged tonight.

Last year the Government set up a cross-departmental
committee to decide how to mark the watershed event in
Ireland's history.

In September 1607, Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and
Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell and 90 of their
followers fled to Europe.

Their armies had been defeated by the English and they
feared arrest and execution.

The exodus led to the demise of the ancient Gaelic
aristocracy in Ireland and paved the way for the Plantation
of Ulster.

A Government spokeswoman confirmed tonight that a
comprehensive programme of quadcentenary events will be
announced tomorrow by the Taoiseach in Government

There are currently exhibitions dedicated to the Flight of
the Earls in Cos Donegal and Derry.

c 2007


Book Review: Parallel Lives, Tumultuous Times In Northern

By YVONNE ZIPP, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Tuesday, Feb 20, 2007
Posted on Tue, Feb. 20, 2007

Literature is full of midlife crises, but few characters
have as good a reason to indulge as Kathleen Moran. The
mother of four has nothing but contempt for her alcoholic
husband, who likes to boast about his imaginary exploits at
the corner pub; her part-time job is drying up and money is
tight; one of her children is in prison for killing a
police officer; and there's a giant hole in her living room
ceiling where a soldier put his foot through it while
searching her home. Said home is located in Belfast in
1979, and her son is a member of the Irish Republican Army.

"This Human Season," Louise Dean's second novel, is set
during the run-up to the hunger strikes in the Maze prison
that killed 10 strikers and were part of a worsening wave
of terrorist violence during Northern Ireland's 30-year
"Troubles." The bleak, grimly funny novel is the story of
two 39-year-olds, Moran and one of the prison guards in her
son Sean's H-block, and gives new meaning to the phrase
scatological humor.

John Dunn spent 22 years in the British Army, including
three tours in Northern Ireland. He figures this has been
ample training for life as a guard. The smell is the first
indication that he may have underestimated his new line of
work. As part of the "dirty blanket" protests, IRA
prisoners striking for a return of their political status
smeared their own excrement all over the walls of their
cells. A strong stomach is a requirement for his job. (It's
also a requirement for readers of this book. After a few
chapters, I wanted to hit the showers.)

The two protagonists' only connection is Sean, and their
story lines never intersect. Instead of cobbling together
fictional contrivances, Dean draws parallels between the
two that strengthen each half of the novel. Both are
preoccupied with their teenage sons (Dunn has a boy Sean's
age whom he's never met). The bathroom is the only peaceful
place either can locate - Kathleen hides in her soap-
scented one at home, while Dunn locks himself in a stall at
work to cry over the brutalities he witnesses every day.

Dean, who is English and who conducted extensive interviews
for the novel, is dispassionate in her portrayal of both
sides of the conflict. There are plenty of crimes to go
round, as well as plenty of humanity. She also nails the
profane camaraderie of the prison guards as well as she
does the kitchen-table talk between Kathleen and her

When Dunn starts work he has almost nothing in common with
the Metaphysical poet of (almost) the same name. He fell in
love with Northern Ireland during his time as a soldier, a
fact he calls his "guilty secret."

Dunn signed on at the prison because he was used to
following orders, and the pay was good. (It had to be,
since the IRA was targeting guards).

In the Army, "there was no personal point of view. There
was agreement and silence and both meant agreement in any
case. By being there, by wearing the uniform, you were in
agreement with it all. You were a fool if you put it on and
you were not."

But after a few days in the Maze, Dunn starts
philosophizing - an uncomfortable feeling for a man who
readily admits that he isn't "deep."

"Was killing educational? Perhaps briefly, as a generation
is brief. The young sowed horror in their springtime with
high hopes for the crop and it rotted down through a long
summer. They harvest grief in the autumn of their lives.
And did they believe, even as they held their
grandchildren, that there would be an end to it all? After
a hard winter killed what was left of them off, it came
again, this human season, this springtime of hatred."

Rather than philosophy, Kathleen relies on gallows humor,
cigarettes, and alcohol to get through daily life in a war
zone. The novel's ready wit offers a lifeline to readers,
even as it does its characters. To get back at the British
soldiers who search their purses, Kathleen and her neighbor
buy the bags that have the most zippers and stuff each
compartment with sanitary products.

When the soldiers search her house, ripping up the
floorboards with a crow bar and vowing not to leave until
they find guns, she tells her 13-year-old, "Liam, show the
man your water pistol."

Kathleen's friend Roisin cleans house for one of the few
Jewish families left in Belfast. "I wish I was a Jew," she
tells Kathleen. "I said to her I might become one myself,
just for the peace and quiet."

"This Human Season" builds to a climax in December, which
finds Dunn celebrating Christmas with his son for the first
time, while Kathleen must endure the first of many without

Dean offers her characters a measure of grace, but alert
readers know that the novel ends just as the Troubles began
an even more devastating phase. A certain amount of
knowledge of history is helpful, since while Dean provides
some background, she isn't writing a treatise of either how
the Troubles began, or how life in Belfast has improved
immeasurably since the 1980s.

"This Human Season" is about dispassionately dissecting
both sides of the divide, and doesn't extend forward in
time to the days when that chasm will finally be bridged.
It's a rare case where a reader can look to the real world
for an ending that is happier than the fictional version.

Yvonne Zipp regularly reviews fiction for the Monitor.

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