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February 25, 2007

Brits & UVF Met 10 Days After Bombs Killed 33

News About Ireland & The Irish

SB 02/25/07 British And UVF Met 10 Days After Bombs Killed 33
AP 02/25/07 Collusion - The Elephant In The Room
IV 02/25/07 Call For Truth Commission
SL 02/25/07 Jesus Wept! LVF Thug Finds God ... Again
SL 02/25/07 Bogside: Woman Keeping Faith With Errant Top Cop Hugh
SB 02/25/07 Ombudsman Requests Scappaticci Files From The PSNI
SB 02/25/07 Local Issues Dominate In The North
SB 02/25/07 British Policy Pushing North Into Poverty: Sinn Féin
SB 02/25/07 Breakdown Of The Northern Nail-Biter
SB 02/25/07 Opposition Closes Gap As Poll Shows 4% Drop For FF
SB 02/25/07 Confusion In Mary Lou’s Election Machine
PT 02/25/07 Politics, Resilience Drive Exhibit By N Irish Artists
PT 02/23/07 Family's Anger After Soldiers' Memorial Is Vandalised
SB 02/25/07 Opin: Power-Sharing Must Not Be Stopped By Minority
BB 02/25/07 Ireland’s 6 Nation Campaign Back On Track
IT 02/25/07 Croke Park Protest Passes Off Peacefully
ST 02/25/07 RSF Demonstrators Fight Losing Battle
SB 02/25/07 EU Experts: Economy Faces Major Slowdown
PD 02/25/07 Irish Peacemakers:
BW 02/25/07 "Luck O' The Irish" At The Atlantic Theater
SB 02/25/07 Psychic Company Owner Buys Daniel’s House


British And UVF Met 10 Days After Bombs Killed 33

25 February 2007 By Colm Heatley

The British government held secret talks with the Ulster
Volunteer Force (UVF) ten days after the May 1974 Dublin
and Monaghan bombings.

The meeting took place at Laneside, MI5's headquarters on
the outskirts of Belfast, 12 days after the bombings which
killed 33 people. At the time, the UVF was widely suspected
of involvement in the bombings.

Since then, fresh evidence has emerged which implicates
British military intelligence in the attack.

Instead, the meeting focused on the internal state of
unionist and loyalist politics and the ongoing Ulster
Workers Council strike, called to prevent power-sharing
with nationalists. Details of the meeting were uncovered by
the Derry based, Pat Finucane Centre.

The fact that no reference was made to the Dublin-Monaghan
bombings during the meeting so soon after the attacks is
considered unusual.

A fortnight ago, Patrick McEntee SC who is investigating
the Garda investigation of the bombing, was granted a ninth
extension to his report.

The report is now expected to be published in mid-March.

In a separate document from April 1975, the Irish
ambassador complained to the British government over the
release from internment of a number of UVF members
suspected of carrying out the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.

The loyalists were interned in October 1974, but released
in April 1975.The Irish ambassador said that the British no
longer had the right to hold republican detainees, ``since,
by the secretary of state's own admission, the loyalists
released were responsible for the Dublin/Monaghan

The revelation that the British failed to raise the
Dublin/Monaghan bombings with the UVF, just days after the
attacks took place, comes after a series of investigations
in recent months which found evidence of British collusion
with loyalist gangs.

Last year, a panel of international jurors found ``strong
and credible'' evidence of British state collusion in
dozens of murders, north and south.

In November, a joint Oireachtas report found ``disturbing''
evidence of collusion with loyalists in a string of
terrorist incidents in the south.

Alan Brecknell, of the Pat Finucane Centre, said that the
latest information added ``to a weight of growing evidence
of state collusion. Clearly there has been mounting
evidence in recent times to support long-held suspicions
that the British government was actively colluding with
loyalists in murders and bombings," he said. ``What is
needed is for the British government to come clean on its


Collusion - The Elephant In The Room

Action, not discussion, is what is needed now. That was the
blunt message Geraldine Finucane presented to a "fringe"
event organised to coincide with a major international
policing conference in Belfast this week.

Accompanied by representatives of other victims of
collusion, Geraldine pointed out that the Finucane family
had been granted an inquiry into the murder of her husband,
Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane. "But we are currently
in the invidious position of being unable to take up that
opportunity because of newly-imposed restrictions by the
British Government," said Geraldine.

"The Inquiries Act of 2005 changed the law to allow the
British Government to exercise ultimate power over any
tribunal. The Act has removed all independence from any
tribunal. To accept such restrictions would be a disservice
to the memory of Pat and all others killed as a result of
this hateful policy of collusion.

"The international policing conference taking place next
door does not have collusion as part of its discussion
agenda. Why is that? The current Chief Constable is very
dismissive of the issue. He keeps telling us to move
forward and forget the past. Everyone wants to move
forward, but if we don't want to be stuck in the past, we
have to deal with it. To move on, we need to know what went
on," said Geraldine.

Also attending the conference were Raymond McCord Snr and
journalist Susan McKay. McCord highlighted the failure of
unionist politicians to acknowledge collusion, while McKay
said that the "few bad apples" notion of collusion had been
totally discredited.

Alan Brecknell, whose father was murdered in a loyalist gun
and bomb attack in South Armagh in 1975, said that
questions need to be answered: "How much was known, when
was it known and at what level," said Alan.

Brecknell outlined a number of official documents unearthed
through the Freedom of Information Act which demonstrate
that collusion issues were known by the British Government
as early as the 1970s.

One document drawn up for the British Cabinet outlined
subversive actions of the UDR. The UDR was the largest
British Army regiment and was in the frontline in the North
of Ireland.

"An MOD memo on the role of the UDR pointed out the
regiment was the largest source of weaponry and the only
source of modern weaponry arming unionist paramilitaries.
The document also admitted up to 15% of the UDR were also
active members of those paramilitaries," said Alan.

During a 1975 meeting, the then British Prime Minister
Harold Wilson informed the opposition leader Margaret
Thatcher that elements within the RUC were passing
intelligence information to the UVF.

"Hugh Orde has repeatedly said he wants to police the
future, but policing the future requires an honest
reckoning with the past," said Alan.

Policing conference

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, Belfast's Waterfront Hall was
surrounded by lobbyists who were there to raise the issue
of collusion with delegates attending an international
policing conference.

The event was organised by the PSNI and the Six County
policing board and saw representatives of the police forces
in Britain, the 26 Counties and the US, as well as PSNI
chief Hugh Orde.

And in an unprecedented move, senior Sinn Fein figures
Gerry Kelly, the party's spokesperson on policing, and
Raymond McCartney also attended.

The conference provided an occasion for groups of Belfast
citizens to demonstrate their outrage at the cover-up of
collusion between British agencies and loyalist

Robert McClenaghan, a representative from campaigning group
An Fh¡rinne, took a leading role in the picket and spoke
with conference attendee Denis Bradley (former vice-chair
of the Six County policing board) about the issue.

Rather than face up to its responsibilities in the policy
of state murder and collusion, the British Government has
been involved in an active campaign of denial. Until the
truth is revealed, collusion cannot be consigned to the
history books.

Tuesday's picket acts as a stern reminder to the British
Government that these issues have not and will not be
forgotten until there is full disclosure.

Remove Article 19 - Kelly

Speaking after he attended both the policing conference in
the Waterfront and the collusion conference in the Hilton,
Gerry 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

"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 Inquiries Act and allow the inquiry into the murder of
Pat Finucane to proceed in the terms demanded by Judge
Cory. This is a simple test which will demonstrate clearly
how serious those within the British system actually are
about delivering for victims."


Call For Truth Commission

By Brendan Anderson

NORTHERN Ireland Policing Board chairman Des Rea has called
on the British government to establish to a truth
commission to deal with outstanding issues relating to the
3,500 people killed during the Troubles.

Rea used his keynote speech at an international policing
conference held in Belfast on Tuesday to call on the
British government to take "speedy action" to deal with
outstanding issues relating to families whose loved ones
have been murdered during the Troubles.

While Rea has made previous calls for the establishment of
some form of truth commission, his latest call is seen as
part of a choreographed move proceeding some new British
government initiative aimed at tackling the controversial
issue of who was responsible for those murdered during the

The Policing Board chairman's truth commission call comes
just weeks after Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan found that
RUC Special Branch officers had colluded with one loyalist
killer in at least 16 murders.

O'Loan found damning evidence that Special Branch officers
from the RUC and later the Police Service of Northern
Ireland had colluded with police agent Mark Haddock in
multiple murders and had then protected him against

O'Loan said that no police officer or agent will face
prosecution because vital evidence was deliberately
destroyed. Many of the RUC and PSNI's most senior police
officers had refused to cooperate with O'Loan's

On Monday some of the families whose loved ones were
murdered by Haddock's gang began legal proceedings against
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde for the police's failure to
prevent the killings.

Jacqueline Larkin, whose brother Gerard Brady was murdered
by Haddock, insisted that legal action against the chief
constable was the only option left open to the families.

"We should not be standing here 13 years on, having to go
through all this," she said.

"The investigations should have been carried out in a
proper manner in the first place, and our families should
have had closure. We haven't had that and all we're asking
for is proper closure and answers."

Addressing more than 300 delegates, including former
Washington Metropolitan police chief Charles Ramsey and
Miami police chief John Timoney, at Tuesday's conference,
Rea said, "I have previously called on government to grasp
and deal with the issue of dealing with the past by
establishing a broadly-based and inclusive commission to
consult widely and to recommend how we as a society should
deal with our past in such a way that it will enable us to
embrace fully the future.

"This issue must be given the priority it deserves."

In the past there have been calls for a South African-style
truth commission which would allow perpetrators to meet
their victims.

Orde has previously backed the establishment of some form
of truth commission, claiming that his force is unable to
cope with increased demands to re-open dozens of emotive
and politically sensitive murder cases.

"The harsh reality is that I am not funded to re-
investigate history, I am funded to police the present,"
Orde said in 2004.

Orde said any such commission would have to be non-judicial
and consider offering amnesties for perpetrators, as well
as compensation for the victims' families.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness welcomed Rea's

"There has to be a systematic recovery of truth, not the
rather disparate truth recovery elements that we have at
the moment," he said.

"There should be a victim' forum convened which would look
at the issue, study possible mechanisms and come up with a
future set of proposals in relation to truth recovery."
Democratic Unionist Party Assembly member Ian Paisley
Junior rejected the call for a truth commission, claiming
that too much public money had already been spent on
reinvestigating controversial murders.

"Despite all that money, we are no nearer convictions of
people who are guilty," he said.

"We have a lawyers' banquet created but we don't actually
have justice for the victims and we don't have due


Jesus Wept! LVF Thug Finds God ... Again

[Published: Sunday 25, February 2007 - 11:07]

By Stephen Breen

A notorious LVF leader in Portadown has found God - for the
second time in three years!

Convicted extortionist Robin 'Billy' King has turned to
religion - again - in a bid to distance himself from
tensions between the LVF and senior north Belfast loyalist
Jackie Mahood.

A former pal of sectarian butcher Billy 'King Rat' Wright,
he's believed to have left the terror group over fears he
could be targeted in violence between rival factions.

King refused to back his drug dealing pals in their dispute
with Mahood and is now in hiding. Sources told us that the
new LVF leadership is made up drug dealers who have links
to republicans.

Said one source: "Robin's telling everyone he has found God
again and this time he's going to stick with it.

"He told people he was turning to Christianity because he
has had enough and just wants to keep his head down."

King, who received a 16-year jail sentence in 1994 for
conspiracy to murder, has told friends he's turning his
back on his former associates.

c Belfast Telegraph


Rooted In The Bogside ... The Woman Keeping Faith With
Errant Top Cop Hugh

[Published: Sunday 25, February 2007 - 09:57]
By Stephen Gordon

Lady Kathleen Orde - the woman who has been a rock for her
husband following the shock revelations about his mistress
and love-child - has her roots in the republican heartland
of the Bogside!

And not just in any Bogside street - but the one where
Martin McGuinness was born and reared.

Her father went to school with McGuinness's father and the
pair took their first Communion together, according to
writer and journalist Nell McCafferty.

Kathy Orde (nee Carabine) doesn't make a big play of her
Derry roots but it's no great secret either.

It was at the historic first PSNI versus Garda GAA game in
Dublin in 2002 that Derry woman McCafferty greeted Kathy as
a fellow Bogsider.

McCafferty dubbed the match the "secret policeman's gaelic
football match" played before a smattering of VIP
spectators and journalists.

Writing in the Sunday Tribune, she told how Kathy Orde's
"Bogside-born grandfather married a well-up Protestant lady
(as we say in the Bogside) and they reared Kathy's father,
uncles and aunts in the street where Martin McGuinness was
later born and reared, and her father went to school with
McGuinness's father".

"The Sunday Tribune was able to fill her in about the
street where her father was born and assure her that as the
neighbour's child, she would be welcomed back by people
such as the McGuinnesses.

"She's been to the street once already, following her
husband's appointment, on a guided tour in a police car,
but they didn't get out," said McCafferty.

Kathy was also driven round the site of the Bloody Sunday

Hugh Stephen Orde married Kathleen Helen Carabine in April
1985 in London. The pair have a 21-year-old son, Jonathan.

They live in Crawfordsburn and dine in smart restaurants in
north Down.

According to a report by the journalist Suzanne Breen:
"Kathleen takes the mickey out of him (Sir Hugh). At one
social function, she said she was going to join Hugh
jogging but wasn't impressed with his style. 'He runs like
a big fairy'," she joked.

But it is also claimed that Lady Orde was not amused when
Sir Hugh went on a fun run to Tyneside last October rather
than attend a major memorial service for fallen police
officers at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

Former Police Federation boss Jimmy Spratt told Sunday
Life: "A senior police officer approached Lady Orde at the
reception at Hillsborough and said, 'I'm very disappointed
that your husband is not here today'. He told me Lady Orde
replied: 'So am I'."

Last week Sunday Life revealed that while senior police
officers from all over the UK and Ireland travelled to
Belfast for the memorial, Sir Hugh was running the Great
North 10k run in Tyneside with his mistress.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ombudsman Investigators Request Scappaticci Files From The

25 February 2007 By Colm Heatley

Investigators from the Office of the Police Ombudsman in
the North have requested security files from the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in connection with an
inquiry into the alleged role of IRA spy Freddie
Scappaticci in a triple murder in 1992.

So far, the PSNI has co-operated with the Ombudsman's
requests. The Ombudsman was contacted last month by Irene
Dignam, whose son, Johnny, was shot dead by the IRA as an

Mrs Dignam asked the Ombudsman to investigate what role, if
any, Scappaticci, played in the murder of her son and two
other men, shot dead in July 1992 by the IRA's internal
security unit, of which Scappaticci was a senior member.

After the murder, a tape of one of the victims being
interrogated by his IRA captors, surfaced. Scappaticci is
alleged to have been conducting the interrogation on the

The Ombudsman has been asked to investigate whether
Scappaticci told his British handlers about the fate of the
three men, Johnny Dignam, Aidan Starrs and Gregory Burns,
and whether they were sacrificed to protect Scappaticci.

All three had been missing for some days before they were
killed by the IRA, and left in south Armagh.

Sources close to the Ombudsman said requests for the
security forces to hand over confidential files relating to
Scappaticci and his handlers had already been made and
agreed to.

It is understood that, because of the gravity of the
allegations, the Police Ombudsman will be able to proceed
with the investigation, despite the murders having taken
place more than 12 months ago.

Any probe into Scappaticci's role as an informer could
prove deeply embarrassing for the British government, which
ran the west Belfast republican as an agent for two

Dignam said she had met investigators from the Ombudsman's
office in recent days.

``I am very confident that, after all this time, we are
starting to move forward in the investigation and may
finally uncover the truth about what happened to my son,"
said Dignam.

Almost 15 years after the triple killing, no arrests have
been made. Scappaticci was `outed' as an informer in 2003.
The west Belfast builder, who was one of the most senior
members of the IRA's internal security unit, responsible
for uncovering informers, denied the allegations.

However, some months later a tape recording of Scappaticci
talking to undercover BBC reporters, and offering damning
information on senior republicans, was made public.
Scappaticci fled Ireland shortly afterwards.


Local Issues Dominate In The North

25 February 2007 By Colm Heatley

The North's election campaign moved into full swing last
week, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) publishing
its manifesto and all parties trying to convince the
electorate that local issues were top of the agenda.

Sinn Fein (SF), it said, would be tested for ``delivery''
on its pledges, and the DUP would not be rushed into power-
sharing until it was satisfied that republicans had been
brought to heel.

The DUP was also engaged in a game of political
brinkmanship. Its senior members were insisting that power-
sharing could only take place if the British government
pledged a financial windfall package for the Assembly.

Elsewhere, the parties were talking up their commitment to
local issues, such as water rates. However, all the parties
have almost identical policies on these issues, so their
relevance has been somewhat diminished.

One problem, particularly for the SDLP and UUP, is voter

The elections are the tenth in as many years, and last time
round the ``stay at home vote'' was most evident in the
SDLP and UUP drop in support. The Ulster Defence
Association (UDA) stepped into the political arena last
week with a pledge to recognise SF ministers in any power-
sharing government. The statement came after a meeting of
the group's leaders in Derry's Guildhall, or the ``lion's
den of nationalism'', as their spokesman called it.

This means the UDA has adopted - officially at least - a
more moderate, politically-accommodating stance, than the


British Policy Pushing North Into Poverty: Sinn Fein

25/02/2007 - 12:20:14 PM

Northern Ireland Office Ministers were today accused of
adopting the same attitude to poverty in the province as
their Victorian counterparts during the Irish famine.

Sinn Fein Assembly candidate Martina Anderson made the
claim on the eve of her party's launch of an anti-poverty
strategy for the North West of Ireland in Derry.

With householders in the North facing increased rates bills
and the introduction of water charges in April, the Foyle
Assembly candidate claimed elderly people and lone parents
were being pushed into poverty by British government

"While some Government departments pay lip service to the
concepts of social exclusion and marginalisation within the
North of Ireland, others continue their relentless pressure
upon the vulnerable through the unjust and unwanted
increases in rates in tandem with the imposition of a water
tax on all households," she said.


Breakdown Of The Northern Nail-Biter

25 February 2007

Colm Heatley profiles the remaining nine six-seater
constituencies in the North ahead of the Assembly elections
on March 7.


North Belfast

Population: 81,000

Average age: 37.5 years

Community breakdown: 44.9 per cent Catholic, 51.8 per cent

A fifth of all the victims of the Troubles were killed in
north Belfast, and the area also suffers some of the
highest levels of social deprivation in the North. Perhaps
more than any other area, north Belfast has reflected the
swing towards Sinn Fein and the DUP.

In this election, social policies will play a strong role
alongside the constitutional issue.

An electoral pact between the Ulster Unionist Party and
Democratic Unionist Party traditionally ensured that the
area was a safe UUP seat.

However, the DUP's Nigel Dodds is the local MP, and the UUP
vote fell from 52 per cent in the 1997 Westminster election
to just 7.1 per cent in the 2005 Westminster election. In
the 2003 Assembly elections, the DUP took two seats, Sinn
Fein two, and the SDLP and UUP one each.

Sinn Fein and the DUP, between them, share 60 per cent of
the area's vote and the UUP's Fred Cobain could lose his
seat to the DUP.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness should retain his seat, but it
may be a close call. The overall picture will be of Sinn
Fein and the DUP increasing their share of the vote, and
squeezing the SDLP and UUP to the point of collapse in
north Belfast.

West Belfast

Population: 87,610

Average age: 33.1 years

Community breakdown: 82.6 per cent Catholic, 16.2 per cent

This is Gerry Adams' backyard and a constituency in which
Sinn Fein will safely romp home. The area has four Sinn
Fein MLAs, one SDLP and one DUP. Sinn Fein looks likely to
capture a fifth seat, with the SDLP taking the sixth.

Unionists do not actually have a full quota in west
Belfast, and the seat held by DUP's Diane Dodds (wife of
Nigel) looks vulnerable. It would take an extremely well-
run campaign for Dodds to have even a slender chance of
retaining her seat.

Fourteen candidates are standing, including Republican Sinn
Fein's Geraldine Taylor, who is running under the
Independent tag. Taylor isn't expected to poll well, but
will mop up some of the disaffected Sinn Fein vote.

With 70 per cent support at the polls last time round and
an extensive network of community activists, the only real
question is the size of the increase in Sinn Fein vote.

North Down

Population: 85,992

Average age: 39.5 years

Community breakdown: 11.6 per cent Catholic, 81.6 per cent

Solidly unionist and middle-class, the North Down
constituency is a battle between the varying shades of
unionism, from the UUP and DUP to hardline mavericks such
as Robert McCartney. Traditionally a UUP area, it was the
only constituency where the party retained a Westminster
seat in 2005, and the UUP can still rely on a support base
in north Down. However, as elsewhere, defections to the DUP
and the general momentum of Ian Paisley's party have eaten
into the UUP vote here.

McCartney is standing here as an anti-power-sharing
unionist, and he has a considerable personal vote in the
constituency. The current spread of the area's six seats is
DUP two, UUP two, Alliance one and McCartney one. That is
unlikely to change, and the UUP vote should hold up in
affluent north Down.

North Antrim

Population: 101,437

Average age: 36.9 years

Community breakdown: 30 per cent Catholic, 67.6 per cent

A largely rural constituency which takes in the towns of
Ballymena and Ballymoney, North Antrim has been represented
at Westminster by Ian Paisley since 1970. Only the north
east of the constituency, the Glens of Antrim, has a solid
nationalist vote, with the rest of the area known for its
strong unionist politics.

The DUP holds three assembly seats in north Antrim with the
other three being split evenly between the UUP, Sinn Fein
and the SDLP. There is a possibility of the DUP taking the
fourth seat from the UUP.

However, on balance, Reg Empey's party should retain its
single seat.

Both Ian Paisley Sr and Jr are contesting the election
here. In the 2005 elections, Sinn Fein became the third-
biggest party in the constituency, and is confident of
increasing its vote this time round. However, the SDLP
looks likely to retain its seat.

The most interesting aspect of the north Antrim battle is
whether the hardline anti-agreement unionist politicians
standing here will attract a significant vote or not.

East Derry

Population: 88,737

Average age: 35.5 years

Community breakdown: 37.9 per cent Catholic, 59.2 per cent

Another rural constituency, East Derry's main urban centres
are Coleraine and Limavady.

Relatively mixed in terms of religion, it tends to become
more nationalist further west.

Fourteen candidates are fighting it out for the six seats.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have one seat each, with the other
four split equally between the DUP and UUP.

There is a possibility that either Sinn Fein or SDLP may
take a third seat in east Derry, but that is by no means

Sinn Fein's Billy Leonard, a former RUC man turned Sinn
Fein councillor, and the only prominent Protestant
republican, is standing in Coleraine.

The area has provided rich pickings for the DUP in recent
years, and the party is targeting a third seat at the
expense of the UUP.

The UUP's decision to stand three candidates in an area
where it has problems defending its two current MLA seats,
may work to the DUP's advantage.

It will be a closely-fought contest and, at the moment, is
too close to call.

West Tyrone

Population: 86,200

Average age: 34.2 years

Community breakdown: 68 per cent Catholic, 31.2 per cent

The battle in this mainly nationalist constituency is all
about the sixth seat. Sinn Fein has two seats, the SDLP
one, DUP one and UUP one.

In 2003, the sixth seat went to independent Kieran Deeny, a
local GP, who was elected in a bid to retain the
constituency's Omagh Hospital. Since then, Deeny's crusade
has lost a lot of momentum, and Sinn Fein is hoping to take
his seat.

A row within the local SDLP branch over the selection of
candidates hasn't helped the party, which has been on a
downward spiral in west Tyrone since 2001. Local issues -
such as new guidelines on rural planning, which make it far
more difficult to build new homes in rural areas - will
play an important factor.

The SDLP should retain its single seat, but what happens to
Deeny's seat is of most interest.

If Sinn Fein takes a third seat, it will confirm the
party's dominance in west Tyrone. Pat Doherty is the area's
current MP.

Independent republican Joe O'Neill, a Republican Sinn Fein
man, is standing, but he will find it difficult to attract
more than a few hundred votes.

Population: 98,158

Average age: 37.1

Community breakdown: 15.3 per cent Catholic, 79.9 per cent

In 2003, this was the single best result for the DUP, which
polled almost 50 per cent of the total vote in the
constituency, and this time round the party is looking for
a fourth seat. The only chance of a nationalist seat comes
from the SDLP who narrowly missed out in the last assembly

The current standing is three seats for the DUP, two for
the UUP and one for the Alliance Party. The DUP is most
likely to take the UUP's second seat. However, the recent
resignation of George Ennis from the DUP could muddy the
waters. Ennis is standing as a UKUP candidate.

Cedric Wilson, an anti-agreement unionist with a relatively
high profile, is standing and he may take some of the DUP's
traditional hardline vote with him.

The Alliance Party is by no means a certainty to retain its
single seat in Strangford. There are slim pickings here for
Sinn Fein, which won less than 1,000 votes in the last
Assembly elections.


Population: 86,496

Average age: 33.7 years

Community breakdown: 65 per cent Catholic, 33 per cent

The constituency's MP, Martin McGuinness, is one of three
Sinn Fein MLAs standing for re-election in mid-Ulster.

All three are certain to retain their seats. Before
McGuinness took over as MP, the area was represented by the
DUP's Rev Willie McCrea, a bogeyman for nationalists, and
the DUP is in pole position in the internal unionist

It is hopeful of taking a second seat at the expense of the
UUP, which will have to work hard to stave off further
slippage in the constituency.

The DUP is keeping it in the family with Ian McCrea,
Willie's son, standing in the constituency this time round.
The family name may be helpful in the internal unionist

Sinn Fein is the most dominant party in the area, but the
SDLP vote hasn't slipped below 17 per cent in mid-Ulster
and the party's well-known local candidate, Patsy McGlone,
should safely retake his seat.

Independent republican Brendan McLaughlin is also standing
here, but his support base will be small.

Upper Bann

Population: 102,947

Average age: 35 years

Community breakdown: 42.8 per cent Catholic, 54 per cent

Once the Westminster constituency of UUP leader David
Trimble, Upper Bann is in the hands of the DUP's David
Simpson, a gospel-singing businessman and outspoken critic
of power-sharing.

This is a solidly unionist seat. Among the hard-line
independents standing is Suzanne Peeples, the wife of
Clifford Peeples, a controversial pastor who was convicted
of explosives offences in 2000.

The DUP holds two seats here, the UUP two, Sinn Fein one
and the SDLP one.

Simpson's hardline approach may act as a brake on the DUP's
electoral rise in the area, dissuading traditional UUP
voters from backing him. In the nationalist race, it looks
likely that Sinn Fein and the SDLP will retain their seats.

Sinn Fein has almost doubled its vote in Upper Bann since
1996 and, with 21 per cent of the vote, it is the dominant
nationalist party in the constituency.

In John O'Dowd, Sinn Fein has an articulate and high-
profile candidate. It will be interesting to see how he
will increase his vote this time.

States of the parties

There are six seats in each of the 18 constituencies,
bringing to 108 the total number of seats in the Assembly.
In the November 2003 Assembly elections, the breakdown of
seats was as follows.

DUP: 32 seats and 25.6 per cent of the vote
Sinn Fein: 24 seats and 23.5 per cent
UUP: 27 seats and 22.7 per cent
SDLP: 18 seats and 17 per cent
Alliance Party: six seats and 3.6 per cent

In the 2005 elections held in the North, the DUP was the
big winner, with a hugely increased vote.

DUP: 33.7 per cent
UUP: 17.7 per cent
Alliance: 3.9 per cent
SDLP: 17.5 per cent
Sinn Fein: 24.3 per cent.


Opposition Closes The Gap As Poll Shows 4% Drop For FF

25 February 2007 By Richard Colwell

The gap between the potential government coalitions has
begun to close in the latest Sunday Business Post/Red C
opinion poll.

In this latest poll, taken last week, support for Fianna
Fail drops significantly down to 38 per cent of the first
preference vote. This represents a decline of 4 per cent
from the high poll figure of 42 per cent that it recorded
in January, which was boosted by the budget and the launch
of the national development plan.

The fact that there is some fall in Fianna Fail's support
is not much of a surprise. When you analyse past poll
trends over several years in more detail, you can see that
support for the government party tends to be relatively

Generally, the government gets a bounce in support
immediately after the budget in December, but this is
gradually whittled away during the year.

The key for the Fianna Fail strategists looking at this in
the run-up to the election was to ensure that its post-
budget support was as high as it could get, so that, as it
fell off in the run up to the election, it would still have
relatively solid support.

Since the last poll in January, the political calendar has
been dominated by the start of the pre-election party

So far, Labour and the PDs have completed their
conferences, and the headlines have all been about the tax
cuts suggested by both parties.

Labour surprised many by proposing a 2 per cent cut in the
standard rate of tax, on the back of its five commitments
to change. It has also launched a new ad campaign: ``But
are you happy?"

The party will be delighted that a combination of these has
helped it to make important gains in today's Sunday
Business Post/Red C poll. Support for Labour has increased
to 14 per cent, which is up 2 per cent since January.

The last time the party had this level of support was
before the Bertie Ahern loans/gifts affair in September
2006, during which support for Fianna Fail rose
significantly as the electorate turned on those attacking

Fine Gael's support increases modestly to 22 per cent in
today's poll, up 1 per cent since January, but not near the
highs that the party saw pre-'`Bertiegate''. However, after
several months of decline in our tracking data, the fact
that the movement is upward will be a vital lift for the
party and may help instil belief that it does still have an
opportunity to win the election.

The PDs are the other party to have held a conference

They also proposed tax cuts, with a promised reduction in
the basic and the top rate of tax. It appears that, as a
result of these promises and the exposure gained over the
past few weeks, the party's support has also received a
boost, rising by 1 per cent since January to give the party
a solid 4 per cent share of the first preference vote.

In total, the two coalitions are closer together than they
have been for some time, with the Fianna Fail-PD coalition
taking 42 per cent of the vote, and Fine Gael and Labour
alliance taking 36 per cent of the vote, if there were to
be a general election tomorrow.

This still, however, leaves a gap of 6 per cent between the
parties, and gives further support to the view that the
Green Party, with its 8 per cent share, may be the
kingmaker for either coalition to form a government.

Support for the Green Party in today's poll rises again to
8 per cent, twice as high as the party obtained at the last
general election, and this confirms that the party has the
opportunity to do extremely well at the next one.

Green Party strategists will be working hard to try and
convert that support into seats, which is the more
difficult task for the party.

Sinn Fein, on the other hand, performs relatively poorly in
this poll; its support has fallen off in recent months and
it receives just 7 per cent of the first preference vote.
This is the same as recorded last month and is back to the
same level the party gained at the last election.

Having spent much of the time between elections with
support hovering at about 10 per cent, this poll is very
bad news, and suggests that the party has an uphill task to
turn its fortunes around at the polling booths in three
months' time.

When we look at the underlying trends in support, based on
three months of our tracking poll data rolled together, the
key insight is that the long-term downward trends for Fine
Gael, and the long-term upward trend for Fianna Fail, have
been brought to an end.

It will be crucial to see next month whether this is the
beginning of a real closing of the gap in support between
the two largest parties, or if this is where support for
the parties now lies and remains relatively steady.

The two parties that should be most happy with the
underlying trends at this stage are the Labour Party and
the Green Party, both of whom are the only ones to see
gains in underlying support over time.

In light of the tax cuts that have been put forward by the
Labour Party and the PDs over the past few weeks, this
month we asked the electorate how much impact this type of
election promise really has on how they will vote. The
majority of the voters (59 per cent) are inclined to agree
that they don't trust promises of tax cuts before the

However, this does mean that almost 1 in 3 voters (31 per
cent) do trust the promises made, and these voters also
appear to be more likely to switch their vote. This is
further confirmed when 30 per cent of the electorate
suggest that promises of tax cuts will make a difference to
who they decide to vote for; with agreement higher among
those in younger age groups, but lower among those that
claim they will vote for Labour.

It is also interesting to note that, in this poll, we
record the highest support to date among the electorate for
paying higher taxes in order to increase funding for health
and education for some time. More than half - 51 per cent -
claim that they would be prepared to pay higher taxes for
better services, up 4 per cent since December last year and
up 6 per cent since this time two years ago.

At the same time, the proportion of the electorate who
believe the government should cut taxes rather than spend
money on public services has fallen back to 38 per cent,
from a high of 45 per cent in December last year.

Richard Colwell is managing director of Red C.


Confusion In Mary Lou's Election Machine

25 February 2007 By Niamh Connolly

Sinn Fein's assertion that Christy Burke is the director of
elections for Mary Lou McDonald, the party's candidate in
Dublin Central, came as news to the former chairman of Bank
of Scotland (Ireland), Phil Flynn, this weekend.

The government's industrial relations troubleshooter, who
lives in Cabra, played a key role in McDonald's successful
election to Europe in 2004.

Flynn, a personal friend of McDonald, told The Sunday
Business Post that he was sharing the director of elections
position with Sinn Fein councillor Christy Burke.

``He is [director of elections] but so am I.

"We're sharing," said Flynn.

However, Burke insisted that he was ``running the show''
but that he would accept any advice from Phil Flynn who
``has skills in management and directing things''.

Flynn responded: ``I have no worry about it. If Christy
said he's director of elections, I'm not going to argue
with him."

There is serious tension with supporters of local election
poll topper Nicky Kehoe, after McDonald was chosen to run
in Dublin Central ahead of him.


Politics, Resilience Drive Exhibit By Northern Irish Artists


What: An exhibition of new works by nine artists from N Ireland
When: Through March 30. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues-Sun
Admission: Free
Where: Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Purnell Center for the
Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland
Details: 412-268-3618

By Kurt Shaw
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, many of
Northern Ireland's major paramilitary campaigns have been
on ceasefire or their leaders have declared their war to be
over. But even today, the institutions that sprung from the
accord have failed to bridge Northern Ireland's deep
sectarian divide.

Case in point: 37 "peace walls" separate communities in and
around Belfast, 18 more than in 1998. Hence, two-thirds of
the population lives in segregated areas -- Protestants
with Protestants, Catholics with Catholics.

To the outside world, the car bombings and Molotov
cocktails of yesteryear seem to be a distant memory. In
fact, many peace walls, filled as they are with vibrant
murals and graffiti that encourage peace, are now tourist

Gone is the devastating violence that once shook Northern
Ireland to its core, but for most who live there, the
memory will never die.

That's something to keep in mind when viewing "Tides," an
exhibition of new works by nine artists from Northern
Ireland that fills all three floors of Carnegie Mellon's
Regina Gouger Miller Gallery.

"These artists address a variety of subjects, in many
different mediums, to explain the range of issues still
permeating Northern Ireland -- and also what it might mean
to be an artist in a place undergoing political
transition," says Hilary Robinson, the Stanley and Marcia
Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Setting the tone of the exhibition is the video
installation "Something You May Later Rely On" by Sandra
Johnston. The only piece on the first floor, it's the first
work visitors will come upon.

One might become lulled by watching young children play in
and around the streets and parks of Belfast on two large
video screens suspended in one half of the gallery. But
more than likely, the viewer will be overcome by the audio
portion of the video in which a woman talks about lives
lost, especially her two young children killed by a car
bomb in 1976.

On the second floor, the somber tone continues. Peter
Richards' massive five-part pinhole photograph "Take too,
little action," with its ghostlike figures staring back at
the viewer, serves as a haunting backdrop to Michael Hogg's
installation piece "Pivot," in which a stack of political
posters is propped just out of reach, on top of a ladder.

But, as stunning as these works are, underscored here by
their dominant placement in the center of the gallery, most
will likely be drawn to the far right side of the space,
where the distant sounds of Irish drinking songs and
Christmas carols can be heard behind a large curtain.

There Seamus Harahan's video "Tessies" plays on a large
screen in front of a few haphazardly arranged pieces of
thrift store-quality furniture. Filmed in a shebeen, the
Irish version of an American speakeasy, in Tyrone during
Christmas 2000, the rowdy old folk in the video give the
false impression that time has stood still -- as if nothing
ever happened in their community and nothing ever will.

The piece is particularly poignant in light of Aisling
O'Beirn's installation "And Other Storeys" arranged on the
floor on the other side of the second-floor gallery.
Comprised of seven cardboard models of historically
important structures that each relate to specific political
or social events, they are haphazardly arranged on the
Not surprisingly, three of them relate to the IRA. One is
the Walker Monument, where Sinn Fein counselor Manus
Canning reportedly hoisted the Irish Tricolor flag on St.
Patrick's Day 1956. But visitors might be surprised to find
among O'Beirn's models his version of the New Orleans
landmark Superdome. The makeshift shelter of thousands left
homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, its inclusion
here underscores the point of the installation. That is the
relationship of these structures to their specific
histories and how each particular history speaks of
specific yet significant events.

Finally, the third floor offers a place for quiet
contemplation, especially when viewing the seven digital
photographs by Mary McIntyre. They feature nook-and-cranny
views of overlooked spaces in and around Belfast, such as a
pond in a park, a gallery in a museum or a hillside leading
up to an office building.

But most arresting is Ian Charlesworth's piece "Always,
again," which dominates the back wall. Made of five large
sheets of plexiglass, it's covered in a hazy linear pattern
design that was made with smoke from a candle run back and
forth on the surface of each piece.

On the floor in front of the work is Alistair Wilson's
piece "Giverny II," which simply comprises several large
discs of acrylic that reflect Charlesworth's piece
magnificently. It's really a sight to behold.

All in all, the exhibition offers aesthetically pleasing
yet politically resonant works that say much about Northern
Ireland today. If these artists prove anything, it's that
resilience is a key factor in getting through life in their
part of the world and, perhaps more importantly, that some
memories will never fade.

Kurt Shaw can be reached at


Family's Anger After Soldiers' Memorial Is Vandalised

A MEMORIAL water feature commemorating the memory of two
Peterborough soldiers killed in Northern Ireland has been

The memorial in Bishop's Gardens was put up four years ago
in memory of Michael Boddy and Stephen Restorick.

Margaret Yallop, Cpl Boddy's sister, said she cried when
she found out that water was no longer trickling out of the
feature after a stone had been moved, bending an iron post
holding it together.

Ms Yallop (65) of Myrtle Avenue, Dogsthorpe, said: "It
really upset me when I found out. I can't understand why
anyone would do it."

Cpl Boddy (24) of the Royal Anglian Regiment was murdered
by an IRA sniper while on patrol in Belfast in 1972 -the
first Peterborough soldier to be killed in the troubles.

Fellow city soldier Lance Bombardier Restorick (23) was the
last British soldier to die at the hands of the IRA when he
was shot in the back by a sniper as he was routinely
checking a car at Bessbrook, South Armagh in 1997.

Ms Yallop joined forces with Stephen's parents, Rita and
John, who then lived at Orton Malborne, to campaign for a
permanent memorial.

Friends, family, the public and the army raised the œ10,000
needed for the memorial which is made up of rocks from the
mountains of Newry and Mourne in Northern Ireland.

Both families were delighted when the impressive water
feature was built.

The memorial was recently restored after it had stopped

Margaret now wants to find out who is responsible for the
damage and is appealing for anyone who has information to
come forward.

"It is such a nice place to come and sit, I can't see why
anyone would want to ruin it," she added.

"There is a robin that sits on top of the stone, I am sure
it is Michael coming to say hello."


Opin: Power-Sharing In North Must Not Be Stopped By

25 February 2007 By Tom McGurk

By the standards of western democracy, the election in the
North must be one of the most bizarre ever to have taken

The people will be asked to vote for a set of democratic
institutions that might never exist.

Over the next three weeks, the North's political parties
will be seeking their votes, but none of them has any idea
whether they will have any opportunity to exercise the
power those votes bring with them.

The North, with its artificial majorities created out of
the gerrymander that was partition, has traditionally
earned asterisks in the book of great democracies.

Looking at what is coming next, its bizarre traditions are
seemingly alive and well.

Whether the Democratic Unionists will join a power-sharing
executive with Sinn Fein - or not - is the central
question, and nobody knows the answer to that - including,
I suspect, the DUP itself. For months, Ian Paisley has been
blowing hot and cold but, for all his amateur dramatic
skills, one wonders if even he knows.

Nor is the result next month guaranteed to provide him with
any particular direction.

If the DUP were to continue to wipe out the Ulster Unionist
Party, there is every chance that it might just strengthen
his resolve to face down Westminster and Dublin. Equally,
if Reg Empey's UUP were to start clawing back electoral
support, Paisley's backwoods men would be screaming: ``We
told you so!"

To Paisley's right, the extraordinary figure of Robert
McCartney, the North Down MLA and UKUP leader, has emerged
screaming of a sell-out.

Given his undoubted intellectual abilities and political
nous, it is extraordinary that history has handed McCartney
the role of the last post-war unionist soldier wandering
out of the jungle waving his sword wildly.

It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the sight of
McCartney chasing an embarrassed Paisley around the new
shopping malls of Lisburn last week. Plus ca change.

It is also evident that unionist politicians have failed to
see where the North is going.

To the south, there is an increasingly prosperous Celtic
Tiger economy whose closeness to, for example, Newry has
already created something of an economic and property
miracle there.

One look at the figures for Protestant involvement in
education should set unionist alarm bells ringing, even in
terms of five to ten years hence. Some 60 per cent of
Queen's University undergraduates and 55 per cent of
University of Ulster undergraduates are Catholic.

Once again this academic year, 35 per cent of the North's
Protestant third-level students went to universities in
Britain and statistical evidence suggests that a huge
percentage of them never return to live and work in the

The figures for working-class Protestant involvement in
third level education are even more alarming, with evidence
mounting that they are now lower than they have ever been.

With the Catholic proportion of the population increasing,
Belfast itself may soon have a Catholic majority.

Levels of unemployment and social deprivation in unionist
working class areas are higher than any time since the
Second World War.

In any normal society, such sectarian statistics would be
meaningless, but they continue to constitute the North's
political looking-glass.

The era of unionist majorities is ending and - with the
educational, economic and cultural indices for the newly
emergent Catholic population rising all the time - unionism
appears trapped in the headlights.

If ever there were a time to do a deal and attempt to
create a new society, now would seem to be the ideal time
to do so. However, there does not seem to be a sense of
this crisis among unionist politicians.

There is nobody looking ten or 20 years down the road, as
political unionism seems to stagger only from today's
crisis to tomorrow's.

And, of course, the irony of it all is that these crises
are largely manufactured within the DUP's own political

As excuse after excuse for not accepting power-sharing is
trotted out, is it any wonder that the North's electorate
can only wearily shake its collective head?

If the UUP were to claw back votes from the DUP next month,
it might represent the beginning of an outbreak of
collective common sense by unionist voters.

Equally, it might just send the DUP roaring back to its
fundamentalist roots.

They are all up some sort of historical cul-de-sac, and
seemingly have only their own phantoms to keep them

Nor should there be any surprise if, on the other side, the
SDLP started clawing back votes from Sinn Fein. By a
substantial majority, Catholic voters want devolution and,
for many, the SDLP's chances of delivering it are better
than Sinn Fein's.

On the one hand, Sinn Fein will gain some votes from
finally accepting the Police Service of Northern Ireland
but, in its heartland, it may lose more traditional votes
than it imagines.

Gerry Adams and his party may have reached the point where
Eamon de Valera was when he left Sinn Fein to found Fianna
Fail. Who says that history is not an entanglement of

It must be pointed out, however, that the achievement of
Adams and Martin McGuinness in bringing the paramilitary
tradition this far, and without major splits, has been
quite remarkable.

Having said all that, how extraordinary it will be if, come
March, the D'Hondt method, which was designed to maximise
consent across divided political agendas, should result in
the overwhelming majority of the North's pro-power-sharing
MLAs being denied it by a minority opposed to it.

If the DUP and some others, who may represent a minority in
the Assembly, succeed in flouting the majority, why was the
whole political superstructure erected?

Would it not be appropriate for the parliament in London to
legislate that a simple Assembly majority in favour of
power-sharing would trigger the process? Then those who
refused to abide by that democratic decision would not be
allowed to serve in any power-sharing administration.

It seems simple and democratic and, were it to be signalled
in advance of the election, surely it would sort out what
the North's voters cannot see now: the backwoods from the


Ireland 43-13 England

Dublin - 24 February, 2007
By James Standley

Ireland: (23) 43
Tries: Dempsey, Wallace, Horgan, Boss
Cons: O'Gara 3, Wallace
Pens: O'Gara 5

England: (3) 13
Tries: Strettle
Cons: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson 2

Ireland got their Six Nations campaign back on track by
demolishing England in their first meeting at Croke Park.

Three Ronan O'Gara penalties edged the hosts into a 9-3
lead before tries from Girvan Dempsey and David Wallace
gave them a 23-3 lead at the break.

A try from debutant David Strettle helped England cut the
gap to 26-13 early in the second half.

But Shane Horgan and Isaac Boss added further tries as
Ireland claimed their record win over England.

Interview: Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan

Interview: England coach Brian Ashton

Interview: Ireland's Paul O'Connell

There had been an emotional build-up to the match at Croke
Park, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, and it was
more than matched by a pulsating encounter.

England, who conceded 40 points in the Six Nations for the
first time in their history, took a second-minute lead
through a Jonny Wilkinson penalty but the hosts were soon
back on terms when O'Gara replied in kind.

The opening quarter of the match was fairly even but as the
half wore on the Irish started to gain the upper hand and
two further O'Gara penalties saw them lead 9-3 after 26

With the rain, which came and went throughout the
afternoon, bucketing down once more Ireland's pack began to
exert their influence at the line-out and just before the
30-minute mark came a crucial moment.

England just managed to halt the rampaging Simon Easterby
but Danny Grewcock cynically went offside at the ruck and
was yellow carded.

With England down to 14 men Ireland went for the kill,
kicking the penalty into the corner, and it paid off as
they scored the opening try of the match.

England managed to repel the initial driving maul but the
Irish, after some dithering and a poor pass from Stringer,
spun the ball down the line.

Fine passes from Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll rescued
the move and they sent Dempsey over, with O'Gara adding the

Horgan and Paul O'Connell then both went close, with Mathew
Tait making a fine tackle to deny the former, before
Ireland stretched well clear when Wallace burrowed over
after 38 minutes.

O'Gara made no mistake with the conversion to give Ireland
a 23-3 lead at half-time.

O'Gara stretched the lead further with a penalty soon after
the re-start but the visitors hit back almost immediately
when the debutant Strettle skated over in the corner after
England whipped the ball down the line.

Wilkinson converted from the touchline and although he fell
short when he tried his luck with a penalty from halfway,
he made no mistake from closer in soon after.

It looked as though the world champions were building some
momentum but from the kick-off replacement prop Julian
White was penalised for illegal use of the boot in a ruck
and O'Gara cancelled out the penalty to restore Ireland's
16-point advantage.

From that moment Ireland assumed total control, launching a
series of threatening attacks on the England line.

England just managed to repel one assault when captain
O'Driscoll was held up over the line by Mike Tindall, but
the visitors could not hold out for long.

From the resulting scrum O'Gara cross-kicked and the 6ft
4in Horgan soared above Lewsey to claim a fine try.

O'Gara landed the conversion, his eighth kick out of eight,
to make it 36-13.

And replacement scrum-half Boss claimed a late interception
try as the hosts surfed a wave of emotion to victory, with
the Croke Park faithful loudly acclaimed a stirring

Ireland: Dempsey; Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), D'Arcy,
Hickie; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, R Best, Hayes,
O'Callaghan, O'Connell, S Easterby, D Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Flannery, S Best, N Best, M O'Driscoll, Boss,
P Wallace, Trimble.

England: Morgan; Lewsey, Tindall, Farrell, Strettle;
Wilkinson, Ellis; Freshwater, Chuter, Vickery (capt),
Deacon, Grewcock, Worsley, Lund, Corry. Replacements:
Mears, White, Palmer, Rees, Perry, Flood, Tait.

Story from BBC SPORT:
Published: 2007/02/24 19:28:20 GMT


Croke Park Protest Passes Off Peacefully

Sat, Feb 24, 2007

A protest by dissident republicans over the playing of God
Save The Queen at this afternoon's Six Nations clash
between Ireland and England at Croke Park has passed off
without major incident.

A tight security cordon was in place around the stadium
for one the biggest security operations ever seen at the
venue amid fears that the demonstration by around 60
Republican Sinn Fein members could spiral out of control.
Up to 1,000 garda¡ have been drafted in.

Debate has raged over the playing of God Save The Queen at
the stadium where 14 civilians were massacred by British
soldiers in 1920.

An RSF delegation, including party president Ruair¡ O
Br daigh, handed in a letter of protest to Croke Park
prior to the game.

RSF was involved in pickets against the "Love Ulster"
loyalist parade through Dublin last year which sparked
major. Building sites in and around Croke Park in the north
inner city have been sealed off to prevent access to rubble
by anyone intent on stirring up trouble.

The British Foreign Office had issued a warning to the
expected 20,000 English fans travelling to Ireland to
arrive at the stadium early for the tie.

President Mary McAleese stepped into the debate to urge
Irish fans to welcome the visiting rugby team onto the
pitch in a show of solidarity with the players and fans.
More than 82,000 supporters will descend on Croke Park for
the sell-out fixture. Stiles will open at 3.30pm for the
5.30pm kick off, with supporters urged to arrive early.

Supervised car parks will be available around Croke Park at
Clonliffe College, Clonliffe Road, Drumcondra, and
motorists are being warned that illegally parked cars risk
being clamped or towed away.

c 2007


RSF Demonstrators Fight Losing Battle

By Simon Hart, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:02am GMT 25/02/2007

Huddled against the torrential rain outside the 'Some Like
It Hot' Indian takeaway on the Drumcondra Road, the small
group of placard-waving Republican demonstrators corralled
behind a line of Garda officers went largely unnoticed as
thousands of green clad supporters poured past them on
their way to Croke Park.

Croke Park: a demonstrator protests outside the stadium

Their forlorn bedraggled protest, organised by the splinter
group Republicans Sinn Fein to highlight the 'unacceptable
normalisation' of relations between Ireland and England,
summed up an extraordinary evening in Dublin.

It was a night when Ireland put aside the past and
celebrated the present and when sport provided a far more
eloquent response to English oppression than the crude
placards being waved outside.

After weeks of searching in Ireland that had concentrated
on the historical significance of yesterday's fixture and
had largely ignored the rugby, it was ironic that national
pride was to be found in remarkable 43-13 scoreline and in
a display by Brian O'Driscoll's men that was truly
magnificent. England were quite simply overwhelmed.

Before the game, debate has centred on how the Croke Park
crowd would react to the playing of 'God Save The Queen'
for the first time in the stadium where the first Bloody
Sunday massacre took place 87 years ago.

When the moment arrived, the England players appeared to
brace themselves for the impending onslaught, linking arms
and staring straight ahead at the Hogan Stand, named after
the young Tipperary footballer who was one of 14 civilians
killed in 1920 when the Black and Tans marched into Croke
Park in the middle of a Gaelic football match to avenge the
murder of British intelligence officers.

Would the anthem be drowned out by Irish boos? Would some
Irish fans, as had been predicted, even turn their backs?
The clue came in the calls of hush that rang round the
ground as the first drum-roll began.

There was not a single dissenting voice in the 81,611 as
the England supporters sang and the home fans maintained a
respectful silence, followed by a hearty round of applause.
The past had been laid to rest.

Like Croke Park, Ireland's own national anthem, the
soldiers song, is a reminder of the country's bloody
history with it's chorus about being 'children of a
fighting race', and some of the Irish players seemed to
struggle with the emotion of singing it as much as their

But outside the stadium there was precious little evidence
of any fighting spirit among the supporters of Republican
Sinn Fein, who last year had turned a loyalist march
through Dublin into one of the worst riots seen in the
Irish capital in decades.

The slogans on their rain soaked placards - 'Remember
Bloody Sunday', 'No to foreign games' and 'Mick Hogan
murdered by crown forces' -looked vaguely ridiculous
against the competing placards being paraded by a group of
young women baring the message: "L'Oreal - because you're
worth it." They and the young men distributing free
Kelloggs nutrigrain bars and O2 rugby balls proved far more
of a crowd puller.

Half a mile away another demonstration by the same
organisation was even more low key - just a middle aged man
and woman walking backwards and forwards across the north
circular road watched by scores of Garda, some of them on
horseback, and filmed by a police camera set up on a large
crane parked in the middle of the road.

Their placards called for the English to go home but also
carried a more esoteric message: "Ireland 32, England 0".
Perhaps they knew more about rugby then they were giving
away. It was a reference to the 32 counties of Ireland but
there have been many who would have predicted a winning
margin of 30 points or more.


EU Experts: Economy Faces Major Slowdown

25 February 2007 By David Clerkin

The economy is at risk of an imminent and ``very serious''
slowdown due to high wages, an overdependence on
construction and a potential collapse in consumer spending,
a top European research agency will warn in a major report
to be published this week.

The report, by the Munich-based CESifo Group, warns of a
clear risk of ``a significant reversal'' in construction

Combined with the impact on exports from declining
competitiveness, this could lead to a sharp fall in growth
rates, it says.

CESifo is the leading German institute which publishes the
IFO Business Confidence Index. Its reports on EU economies
carry considerable weight: they are written by an advisory
group of senior economists from across Europe.

A chapter on Ireland in the latest report warns that a
property downturn could put pressure on public finances, as
tax receipts fall at the same time as demand for social
welfare payments increases among unemployed construction

The problems facing the Irish labour force in such a
scenario could only be corrected by a significant number of
recent immigrants choosing to leave the country, and job
creation in sectors not connected to the construction
industry, the group said.

``Such a slowdown would also raise the demand for public
support of unemployed foreign workers, putting pressure on
the Irish welfare state," the report said.

While inward migration had helped to keep wage pressures
down, especially among low-skilled workers, they had also
contributed to the continuation of the boom in the
construction sector.

``In Ireland, the demand for new housing by migrants is one
of the factors contributing to the strong dynamics of the
real estate market, hence to the prolonged boom in the
construction sector," said the group. But that boom was
close to fading away, the report said.

``The strong rate of expansion and the high market
valuation of the housing stock point to the risk of a
significant reversal at some point in the near future," it

The report warned that prices of goods, services and labour
had risen too quickly, putting Ireland at the top of the EU
table for labour costs, and that the economy was
particularly vulnerable to a fall-off in global demand for
Irish exports.

This exposure, combined with the risk of a property
slowdown, means that there is ``substantial macroeconomic
risk built into the current state of the Irish economy''.

The experts warned that the boom could turn into a period
of slow growth, as falling consumer demand and a decline in
construction activity coincide with difficulty in export
markets due to declining competitiveness.


Irish Peacemakers:

Two Catholic politicians intimately involved in the Good
Friday Peace Accords will be in Cleveland Tuesday night to
talk about peace prospects in Northern Ireland.

Bobby Lavery, a former Sinn Fein counselor from North
Belfast, and Terry Kirby, a former political prisoner at
the Long Kesh Detention Center, will speak at 7:30 p.m. at
the Flat Iron Caf‚, 1114 Center St., in the Flats, as
guests of Irish Northern Aid. For information, call 216-


Saturday, February 24, 2007; Posted: 8:58 AM - by Beau

"Luck O' The Irish" At The Atlantic Theater


Want to experience comedy like you've never seen it before?
Well look no further than Gated Community Improv, a high
energy improvisational comedy troupe whose unique brand
includes: themed sketch comedy, live improvisation, song
parody and hysterical videos. For the past three years
Gated Community, has had audiences rolling in the aisles
with the show described as "Saturday Night Live meets Whose
Line Is It Anyway?"

"Luck O' The Irish" contains spoofs on all things Irish,
including: Lord of the Dance, the IRA, great moments in
Irish history, and a special musical closer of Gated
Community's version of an Irish rap song "In Da Pub". The
show will also feature Irish themed improvisations, where
Gated Community will create scenes based on audience
suggestions. It promises to be a fun filled Irish evening!

Gated Community's recent appearances include the 2007 Miami
Improv Festival opening for The Groundlings from Los
Angeles and Upright Citizens Brigade from New York City.
It was their third straight year performing at the Miami
Improv Festival, a collection of the nation's best Improv
comedy troupes. Gated Community has also been invited to
perform on the main stage at Artigras 2006, as well as
countless corporate training and entertainment events all
across Palm Beach County, including the Kravis Center, The
Maltz Jupiter Theater and The Cuillo Centre for the Arts.
The group received a 2005 Impy award for best sketch comedy
in Palm Beach County.

The performance of "Luck O' the Irish" is on Saturday March
17th at 8:00pm. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00
for students and seniors and can be purchased by calling
The Atlantic Theater box office at (561) 575-4942. For
more information on Gated Community please visit their
website at

Gated Community Improv
6743 W. Indiantown Rd #34
Jupiter, Florida 33458


Psychic Company Owner Buys Daniel's House

25 February 2007 By Tom Lyons

Singer Daniel O'Donnell has sold his Donegal home for
almost ?3 million to the businessman behind Irish Psychics

The eight-bedroom home, which overlooks the Atlantic and
has been on the market since August, was bought by
businessman Tom Higgins.

O'Donnell put his home on the market because he wanted a
smaller house in which to live with his wife, Majella
McLennan, and her two teenage children from a previous

O'Donnell's Donegal home brings to ten the number of homes
Higgins owns around theworld. These include a large home in
Wicklow, from where he runs his psychic and premium phone
services empire, as well as properties in Alicante and
Malaga in Spain.

O'Donnell also has substantial property interests,
including a large home in Tenerife.

Proceeds from the sale will add to his fortune garnered
from numerous top ten hits.

O'Donnell controls several companies that manage his
business interests. These including DOD Promotions, which
had retained profits of ?2.9 million at the end of 2005.

The house, Donegal Shore House, was designed by O'Donnell.
Sitting on a one-acre site, it has three reception rooms
and a detached three-car garage.

Higgins plans to become Ireland's first space tourist,
having paid about ?250,000 to Richard Branson's space tours
business Virgin Galactica. The businessman appeared on
Prime Time last week to defend his premium text message
business, Mobilemania.

Tom Lyons is business editor with Newstalk 106-108FM.

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